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Los Angeles On Course to Eliminate Natural-Gas Fired Electric Generation

On February 12, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the LA Department of Water and Power (LADWP) will not move forward with upgrading three key coastal natural gas-fired power plants in the LA basin. The three plants, currently providing approximately 12% of the city’s electricity, would have required significant capital upgrades to come into compliance with 2010 State Water Resources Control Board policy CWA 316b, which demands that power plants stop using ocean water for cooling.

The cost of bringing the three plants—in El Segundo, Wilmington and Long Beach—into compliance was estimated to be approximately $2.2 billion, and was to be borne by LADWP ratepayers. It would have locked in the usage of significant quantities of natural gas in Southern California for decades to come. This would complicate plans endorsed by city leaders to move LA to 100% carbon neutrality by 2050, which is slightly less aggressive than California’s target of 100% carbon-neutral energy by 2045 (CA SB 100).

In his announcement Mayor Garcetti indicated that the three plants would be phased out by 2029. Their capacity will be replaced by expanding solar photovoltaic generation and batteries. While initial estimates of replacing the natural gas units with renewables and energy storage were significantly higher than bringing the plants into compliance with CWA 316b, it is expected that the continued decline in both solar and energy storage costs will mitigate this decision’s impact on LADWP ratepayers.

GI Energy’s experience of energy storage in particular aligns with this view, and we applaud the move as a clear sign of commitment to carbon reduction.