The Second-Largest City In The U.S. Is On The Verge Of Being 100 Percent Renewable

Written by on June 13, 2016 in Eco-Friendly, Environment with 0 Comments

Downtown Los Angeles-compressed

By Samantha Page | Think Progress

Los Angeles is a city born of Thomas Edison’s inventions. The movie camera, obviously, helped propel it to become the second-largest city in the United States, but the light bulb, too, is integral to the city’s heritage. Unlike many of the country’s older cities, Los Angeles barely knew a time without electricity. There is even a hip bar called The Edison paying homage to the city’s history in a former power plant in the heart of downtown.

Growing up alongside the car and electricity industries, Los Angeles has long been seen as one of the country’s most modern cities. But now, as our collective dependence on power has been found guilty of damaging our water, air, and climate, the city is taking steps to be part of the new future: a clean energy future.

Related Article: U.S. Dept. Of Energy Endorses Project That Will Bring Wind Power to 1.5 Million Homes and Businesses

The City Council is going to consider a motion this month that would direct the municipal utility to determine how to move the city to 100 percent renewable energy. The motion already has broad support from councilmembers, and Los Angeles officials confirmed that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has begun work on the report, which will be developed with research partners, including the Dept. of Energy.

The motion from council members Paul Krekorian and Mike Bonin reads:

LADWP is on the verge of making significant investments in its infrastructure, and with that 100-year-old power system in need of significant upgrades, the city has an opportunity to re-create its utility in a way that recognizes the potential for a fossil-free future, demonstrates global leadership in its commitment to clean energy, and protects ratepayers from the increasing costs of carbon-based fuels

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has introduced a number of clean energy policies since taking office, supports the initiative.

Over the past few years, Los Angeles has seen the beginnings of a massive transition, and the city itself has been responsible for much of it. In one high-profile move, the city spent $57 million to replace its traditional streetlights with LED bulbs. That simple, if grand, gesture is saving the city $9 million a year in electricity costs and has reduced CO2 emissions by 60,000 metric tons — about equal to 8,860 homes’ worth of electricity.

Why cities could be key to addressing climate change

In fact, cities are seen as one of the most pivotal points for clean energy transformation.

According to the most recent progress report from C40, an international coalition, 228 world cities — representing 436 million people — have set targets that would reduce emissions by 13 gigatons of CO2 by 2050. Partly, this opportunity for reductions is tied to the sheer size of cities. Cities hold more than half of the world’s population, so changes can have outsized impacts.

But cities also operate differently than states and countries, where it can be much harder to change direction of policies.

Related Article: Solar is Growing Massively by Referrals: Here Are the 10 Most “Contagious” Solar Cities in the U.S.

“Cities have a very unique ability to be at once visionary and pragmatic,” Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, told ThinkProgress. “It’s pretty hard to get stuck in dogmatic, ideological thinking when you’re the mayor of a city or you’re on the council.”

The Sierra Club worked with the councilmembers behind Los Angeles’ current proposal as part of the group’s Ready for 100 campaign, a grassroots effort to encourage commitments to 100 percent renewable energy. In the United States, 12 cities, including both San Francisco and San Diego, have enacted 100 percent clean energy goals, and four cities are already there.

Under the current plan, emissions are expected to drop. Under a new plan, they could drop to zero.

Under the current plan, emissions are expected to drop. Under a new plan, they could drop to zero.

The campaign officially launched in January, but Brune said there are active campaigns now in dozens of cities. “From Oakland, Calif., to Cleveland, Ohio, Boulder, Miami, Boise — these are all efforts that just got started in the last 90 days,” Brune said. He estimated there would be 50 cities with active campaigns by the end of the year.

“We hoped it would grow quickly, and it’s growing more quickly than we hoped,” he said. “You have cities that want to be able to show strong leadership on climate, and they see an enormous opportunity for economic benefit,” Brune said.


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