An LA without gas stations?

Oil derricks and refineries would disappear from the region.

Gas stations would become irrelevant.

Streetscapes would be dominated by electric vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians.

That’s the vision laid out in a sustainability plan that will be considered Tuesday by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

If carried out, the list of 159 action items included in the plan could dramatically transform LA’s landscape in the coming decades. County officials call the scheme to phase out fossil fuels the “nation’s most ambitious” regional proposal.

“We recognize the climate crisis and the need to act,” says Gary Gero, the county’s chief sustainability officer. “This is going to be a lot of hard work.”

Like the city of LA’s sustainability initiative, referred to by local officials as a “Green New Deal,” the county’s plan calls for complete carbon neutrality by 2050—meaning that carbon emissions would be reduced to zero or completely offset on a countywide level.

By many estimates, that may be too slow.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global warming could reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2030, with potentially devastating consequences. But the proposals from the city and county put Los Angeles in a position to honor the Paris Accord, which the U.S. abandoned in 2017.

Many elements of the plan could come together sooner. Gero says a proposal to power all of the county’s unincorporated areas using renewable energy could be realized even sooner than the 2025 goal included in the document.

Eliminating the county’s carbon footprint, even over a 30-year period, will require major shifts in LA’s planning process. Near-term solutions recommended in the plan include elimination of parking requirements for new housing and installation of bus-only lanes throughout the region.

Both strategies could be a tough sell for drivers and those wary of residential density. The reduction—or elimination—of parking minimums was a sticking point in debate over Senate Bill 50, a transit-oriented development proposal that remains stalled in the state legislature.

Meanwhile, multiple Metro plans for new dedicated bus lanes along major corridors like Colorado Boulevard have recently come under fire from some drivers and local officials.

Gero says the county’s strategy for cutting carbon emissions relies on convincing more people to walk, bike, or take public transit when traveling through the region. By 2045, the sustainability plan calls for a 50 percent increase in these types of trips—and a reduction in the number of miles residents drive each day to less than half of current levels.

“We’re going to have to have an open and honest dialogue about what the region needs,” Gero says. “Some people are going to be resistant, but this kind of change is never easy.”

Another likely challenge is the county’s proposal to “sunset” petroleum operations, eventually ending oil drilling and refining in a region that once ranked among the world’s most prolific oil production sites.

California’s oil boom is over, but the petroleum industry remains a major driver of the state’s economy, and Gero says a key part of phasing out fossil fuels will be replacing oil industry jobs and creating opportunities for green energy providers.

One segment of the plan calls for job training and creation of a “just transition” task force to ensure workers aren’t left behind in the pursuit of a greener economy.

As in the city’s sustainability initiative, the plan includes no guarantees that the county will meet its goals. One major obstacle is that the Board of Supervisors has limited jurisdiction over the 88 individual cities found in LA County. That means plenty of coordination between city, county, and state agencies will be required to make any of this happen.

Gero says county department heads will be required to provide frequent updates on progress, with the sustainability goals serving as barometers of success. Ultimately, though, it will be up to residents to see these plans through.

“Ultimately it’s the stakeholders who will hold us responsible,” he says.

 

An LA without gas stations?, By Elijah Chiland, Curbed, August 5, 2019.

Another California City Drops Gas Peaker in Favor of Clean Portfolio

The Southern California city of Glendale officially dropped a $500 million gas peaker project that it nearly approved last spring, and instead picked up the mantle of clean energy leadership.

The city council voted in April 2018 to pause development on the 262-megawatt repowering of the Grayson Power Plant and examine clean energy alternatives. Now, the municipal utility has completed an examination of 34 clean energy proposals and selected a diverse portfolio it says will meet reliability needs and save ratepayers $125 million compared to the old portfolio.

In other words, Glendale Water & Power (GWP) went through an energy transition in a little over a year.

“The future envisioned herein represents a complete transformation of the way GWP provides reliable, affordable and clean energy resources to the citizens of Glendale,” the utility wrote in a new integrated resource plan approved last week.

When the earlier planning process started back in 2014, batteries were not on the menu of cost-effective options, so a recognized capacity need — in this case, the retirement of a plant that dates back to the 1940s — essentially guaranteed a gas plant solution.

“At that point in time, thinking about reliability, the storage market was still very much in its infancy and very expensive still,” GWP General Manager Steve Zurn said in an interview.

Since then, large-scale batteries have become competitive, but so have networks of small-scale energy devices located in homes and businesses.

The final portfolio, proposed in Glendale Water & Power’s new integrated resource plan, would repower the Grayson Power Plant with a 75-megawatt/300-megawatt-hour Tesla battery installation and up to 93 megawatts of fast-ramping Wärtsilä engines.

Customer-focused resources will add another 50 megawatts, including 12.8 megawatts from home solar and batteries installed by Sunrun, 10.5 megawatts of demand response by Franklin Energy and 20.4 megawatts of energy efficiency and demand response from Lime Energy Services. That demand reduction constitutes about 14 percent of the utility’s roughly 350-megawatt peak load.

The new capacity was needed as backup in case the local grid lost its first- and second-largest power sources at the same time — not an outlandish possibility, given the fire risk in the dry hills surrounding the city. That role meant the expensive gas peaker would have had little to do most of the time.

Instead, the batteries, solar PV and efficiency investments will provide other benefits regularly, lowering peaks and reducing customer bills, in addition to serving local capacity during extreme events.

“It’s an astounding victory,” said Earthjustice attorney Angela Johnson Meszaros, who testified against the original gas-plant proposal on behalf of the Sierra Club. “It really does highlight what it looks like when the community turns out and demands better. And good on the Glendale City Council for letting better happen.”

Once the city council called for clean alternatives, GWP put its original plan on hold and got a request for clean proposals out and back in three months. Then the methodical vetting process began, which happened to coincide with the utility’s new IRP deadline.

“It was like, ‘OK, let’s do this; these are good points,'” Zurn recalled of the decision to set aside the old plan. “Nobody made a mistake; it was just that technologies have advanced and it’s worth stepping back and taking another look.”

Wärtsilä’s shift toward green energy

The final proposal does include some fossil fuel infrastructure, but the choice of Wärtsilä engines is notable.

The company, a Finnish manufacturer of engines for ships and power production, has adopted a long-term decarbonization strategy that envisions running its equipment on synthetic biofuels one day. It also acquired energy storage integrator Greensmith and has been active in storage projects as another form of flexible power.

Similarly, GWP expects to be able to convert the engines to run on biogas, renewable natural gas or even hydrogen, depending on the commercial maturation of those fuels. In the meantime, 18.5-megawatt units give the utility more precision to meet peaks than firing up much larger turbines. And if it’s possible to reduce the number of engines and still meet reliability needs, Zurn said he’s happy to do that.

The city council gave preliminary approval for the new batch of contracts. Now, GWP has to finalize the contracts and conduct a new round of environmental review. The company is working toward earning final approval next spring, which would allow demolition at Grayson to start next summer.

With Grayson’s original repowering off the table, viable new gas plant proposals appear to be extinct in California.

Calpine in May abandoned its Mission Rock peaker on the Santa Clara River, and local opposition scuttled NRG’s Puente Plant, which would have occupied the beach at Oxnard. Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti canceled the renovation of three gas plants in his city’s municipal utility territory, committing to entirely clean energy instead.

 

Another California City Drops Gas Peaker in Favor of Clean Portfolio, by Julian Spector, Greentech Media, July 30, 2019.

California gas plant to be re-powered with batteries + solar

While it has been no secret that the City of Glendale, California has been looking to re-power the aging gas-fired Grayson Power Plant with renewables, details the scope of that project, as well as the carveouts for each specific type of generation proved to be scarce.

That all has changed, however, as the city has released a plan to replace all but one of the plant’s existing generation facilities with a mix of battery storage, distributed solar and geothermal energy. Broken down by capacity, the plan calls for a 75 MW, 300 MWh battery energy storage system, up to 50 MW of distributed solar projects, energy efficiency and demand response programs. not all of the gas is going by the wayside, however, as a 50 MW simple-cycle gas turbine known as Unit 9 will remain, and Glendale will retain rights to the 50 MW Magnolia power plant in Burbank.

The plan also proposes the addition of 93 MW of “peaker” gas generation from up to five combustion turbines.

And if you’ve ever doubted that strong policy leads to real change, know that the City of Glendale has stated that the plant’s re-powering is being done pursuant to SB 100. That bill is the clean energy mandate passed last year, which has a looming benchmark of  60% renewable generation from utilities by 2030, on the way to its 100% clean energy by 2045 mandate.

This now marks the second California power plant this month that is set to be replaced, at least partially, through battery storage. The other is an infamous jet fuel-burning plant in Oakland, set to be replaced by a 20 MW, 80 MWh battery storage system.

In fact, this news from Glendale will likely mark the final bit chapter what has been themonth of the battery. Battery deployment is likely the next domino to fall in the path of the energy revolution, and with those future capacity predictions from the Energy Information Administration and the wild increase in year-to-year battery investment, it’s falling fast. What’s especially exciting is that not only are we now seeing large-scale batteries as a solution for retiring power plants, but these batteries are now being fed by distributed energy. Every day, the dream of a grid built upon distributed generation becomes less of a hope and more of a reality, thanks to town like Glendale.

 

California gas plant to be re-powered with batteries + solar, by Tim Sylvia, PV Magazine, July 29, 2019.

LA Mayor Boots DWP Chief The Day After FBI Raids Connected To 2013 Overbilling Scandal

A day after the FBI served a search warrant on the L.A. Department of Water and Power, Mayor Eric Garcetti showed General Manager David Wright the door.

FBI agents searched the downtown offices of LADWP and City Attorney Mike Feuer on Monday. While spokespeople for both the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office declined to describe the subject of the investigation, the city attorney’s office acknowledged it is linked to the aftermath of the utility’s 2013 overbilling scandal.

Wright had announced his retirement last month, but had been expected to leave in October. On Tuesday, Garcetti said the change in leadership couldn’t wait another day.

Meanwhile, the DWP board has appointed Chief Operating Officer Marty Adams as general manager on an interim basis, recommending the mayor and City Council approve him for the permanent post.

“Marty Adams has the experience and integrity to reassure Angelenos — the residents who own this utility — that the agency works for them,” Garcetti said in a statement.

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Los Angeles is finally ditching coal — and replacing it with another polluting fuel

The smokestack at Intermountain Power Plant looms mightily over rural Utah, belching steam and pollution across a landscape of alfalfa fields and desert shrub near the banks of the Sevier River.

Five hundred miles away, Los Angeles is trying to lead the world in fighting climate change. But when Angelenos flip a light switch or charge an electric vehicle, some of the energy may come from Intermountain, where coal is burned in a raging furnace at the foot of the 710-foot smokestack.

The coal plant has been L.A.’s single-largest power source for three decades, supplying between one-fifth and one-third of the city’s electricity in recent years.

It’s scheduled to shut down in 2025, ending California’s reliance on the dirtiest fossil fuel.

But Los Angeles is preparing to build a natural gas-fired power plant at the Intermountain site, even as it works to shut down three gas plants in its own backyard. Although gas burns more cleanly than coal, it still traps heat in the atmosphere. It also leaks from pipelines as methane, a planet-warming pollutant more powerful than carbon dioxide.

Critics say Los Angeles and other Southern California cities have no business making an $865-million investment in gas, especially when the state has committed to getting 100% of its electricity from climate-friendly sources such as solar and wind. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti has touted his decision to close the three local gas plants as part of his own “Green New Deal” to fight climate change.

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Those ads ripping Garcetti on homelessness? They’re about fighting his Green New Deal

When Eric Garcetti ran for mayor six years ago, he rode a wave of anger over the political power wielded by the union that represents workers at the Department of Water and Power — and later vowed to reform the agency that Los Angeles residents love to hate.

That effort has since been eclipsed by a homelessness crisis that has brought tents and encampments to nearly every corner of the city.

Now, as he faces mounting anger over the crisis, Garcetti is locked in a rematch with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18. Union leaders have launched a frontal assault on Garcetti’s sweeping environmental plan — and are using homelessness as a cudgel.

Working Californians Research Fund, a nonprofit operated by IBEW Local 18, has run television and radio commercials attacking Garcetti over the homelessness crisis and his Green New Deal, a package of proposals to address climate change locally. Those initiatives would eliminate thousands of jobs amid a serious housing crisis, the group said.

On Facebook and Twitter, the group also has warned that Garcetti’s green plan could double electricity rates and “dramatically increase” gasoline prices for drivers. And DWP workers have picketed Garcetti events, carrying signs that call the Green New Deal “a raw deal” for workers and ratepayers.

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Clean Power Alliance Signs Three New Renewable Energy Power Purchase Agreements

Los Angeles, CA–Clean Power Alliance (CPA) signed three new competitively priced long-term power purchase agreements, including two new solar projects and one existing small hydroelectric project. The projects were approved by CPA’s Board of Directors at their June 28th board meeting.

All of the projects are located in Southern California in areas with low environmental impacts and specifically designated for renewable energy development. The projects will enable CPA to meet its customers’ renewable energy demand, lower costs, and comply with state renewable energy mandates. The two new solar facilities will create approximately 500 jobs, contracting well-paid and skilled workers to deliver on CPA’s mission to invest in a green energy workforce.

“These contracts demonstrate that Clean Power Alliance’s environmental commitments are translating into high impact investments and competitive pricing for our customers, while combatting climate change,” said Diana Mahmud, Board Chair of Clean Power Alliance and South Pasadena City Councilmember.

The first project contracts 233 megawatts from the Arlington Solar project in Riverside County, which will be owned and operated by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC. That project will come on-line in two phases, with the first 100 MWAC delivered December 2021 and the next 133 MWAC delivered December 2022. It has an expected output of 718,220 MWh/year and a 15-year long contract.

The second project contracts 40 megawatts from Clearway Energy Group’s Rosamond Solar project in Kern County, beginning in March 2021. It has an expected output of 114,780 MWh/year and a 15-year long contract.

The last project contracts all of Isabella Partners’ existing 12 megawatt Isabella small hydroelectric project in Kern County, beginning in December 2020. It has an expected output of approximately 48,000 MWh/year and a 10-year long contract.

The projects resulted from CPA’s 2018 Clean Energy Request for Offers (RFO) and complement a long-term contract for the Terra-Gen owned Voyager wind project, executed in late 2018. CPA is negotiating additional long-term contracts from its 2018 Clean Energy RFO and will launch another Clean Energy RFO this coming fall.

CPA’s newly signed contracts follow a trend of Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) programs across the state exercising their buying power and driving new renewable energy development. Collectively to date, California’s CCAs have signed long-term renewable energy contracts for over 2000 megawatts.

“Our customers and the local governments who comprise Clean Power Alliance have overwhelmingly chosen competitively priced renewable energy options. These contracts will allow us to give our customers what they want while meeting California’s ambitious renewable energy goals ten years early,” said Natasha Keefer, Director of Power Planning and Procurement, Clean Power Alliance.

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Clean Power Alliance believes in a clean energy future that is local, where communities are empowered, and customers are given a choice about the source of their energy. As of June 2019, Clean Power Alliance serves over one million customer accounts and has the most customers on 100% renewable energy rate plans than any other electricity company in the country. Visit www.cleanpoweralliance.org or call Clean Power Alliance at 888-585-3788 for more information.

Environmentalists balk as Glendale power plant officials unveil ‘portfolio of tomorrow’

A proposal to rebuild Glendale’s aging power plant includes significantly less natural gas than a now-scrapped plan from last year — but still doesn’t sit well with environmental advocates who think any amount is too much.

Under the plan recommended by the Glendale Water & Power Commission this week, several soon-to-be retired gas turbines at the Grayson Power Plant would be replaced by a combination of battery storage, wind and solar power, and programs to reduce energy consumption by homes and businesses, as well as five internal-combustion engines that run on natural gas.

Gary Dorris, president of the consulting company that developed the proposal, said it balances several goals, including environmental sustainability, low energy costs and keeping the lights on.

“I think this portfolio represents a perfect vision of a clean-energy supply portfolio of tomorrow,” Dorris said during the commission meeting on Wednesday.

 

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Malibu City Facilities Move To 100% Renewable Energy

MALIBU, CA — Malibu City Council approved having all City facilities to run on 100 percent renewable electricity generated from non-polluting, clean and renewable sources such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power during the June 24 City Council meeting, as part of the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Budget, the City of Malibu press release said.

“Malibu is proud to be a leader in environmental protection policies, and we continued that tradition when we approved 100% clean energy for City facilities,” Mayor Jefferson Wagner said. “All cities, counties and states should come together to be part of the global effort to combat climate change.”

In Dec. 2018, Malibu joined the Clean Power Alliance (CPA), a public agency made up of 31 local governments across Los Angeles and Ventura counties “working together to bring clean, renewable power choices to their communities,” the press release said. CPA purchases clean power and Southern California Edison (SCE) delivers it — SCE will continue to send just one bill and be responsible for resolving any issues with electricity service, the City said.

Malibu will meet the California Senate Bill 100 mandate of 100 percent zero-carbon, clean renewable energy electricity by 2045, by selecting 100 percent clean energy for City facilities. About one third of CPA members selected the 100% Green Power tier, including Culver City, Manhattan Beach, Rolling Hills Estates, Santa Monica, South Pasadena and West Hollywood, among others.

“Unlike fossil fuels, such as oil, natural gas, and coal, which cannot be replaced and produce greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy regenerates naturally in a short period of time,” City officials said. “The facilities that produce CPA’s electricity are located in California and on the western grid.”

CPA energy for residential customers in Malibu began in Feb. 2019 and for non-residential customers in May 2019. Malibu customers are automatically enrolled to receive 50 percent of their power supply from renewable sources at the same cost as SCE, which consists of only 34 percent renewable electricity, the press release said. Customers can also choose to get 36 percent of their energy from renewable sources and get a 1 percent discount, or choose 100 percent renewable electricity and pay an additional nine percent. Customers can also opt out completely. Customers can change their rate option online or by calling CPA at 888-585-3788.

 

Malibu City Facilities Move To 100% Renewable Energy, by Emily Holland, The Patch Malibu, July 2, 2019.

Clean Power Alliance signs PPA for 12-MW Isabella small hydro project in California

The Clean Power Alliance (CPA) has signed three long-term power purchase agreements, including two new solar projects and one existing small hydro project.

All three projects are located in southern California and will enable CPA to meet its customers’ renewable energy demand, lower costs and comply with state renewable energy mandates, according to a press release.

“These contracts demonstrate that Clean Power Alliance’s environmental commitments are translating into high impact investments and competitive pricing for our customers, while combatting climate change,” said Diana Mahmud, Board Chair of Clean Power Alliance and South Pasadena City Councilmember.

CPA reports it has contracted all of Isabella Partners’ 12-MW Isabella hydroelectric project in Kern County, for 10 years beginning in December 2020. It has an expected output of about 48,000 MWh/year.

The first solar project contracts 233 MW from the Arlington Solar project in Riverside County, which will be owned and operated by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources LLC. That project will come on-line in two phases, the first 100 MW in December 2021 and the next 133 MW in December 2022. It has an expected output of 718,220 MWh/year and a 15-year contract.

The second solar project contracts 40 MW from Clearway Energy Group’s Rosamond Solar project in Kern County, for 15 years beginning in March 2021. It has an expected output of 114,780 MWh/year.

The projects resulted from CPA’s 2018 Clean Energy Request for Offers and complement a long-term contract for the Terra-Gen-owned Voyager wind project, executed in late 2018.

CPA says its newly signed contracts follow a trend of community choice aggregation (CCA) programs across the state exercising their buying power and driving new renewable energy development. Collectively to date, California’s CCAs have signed long-term renewable energy contracts for over 2,000 MW.

CPA is a “locally operated electricity provider” in Los Angeles and Ventura counties in California, serving about 3 million customers and 1 million customer accounts. The power CPA purchases is delivered by Southern California Edison.

 

Clean Power Alliance signs PPA for 12-MW Isabella small hydro project in California, Press Release, Hydro Review, July 2, 2019.