The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power wants to put coal in its past, and it’s turning to its customers to pay for the transition.
The department’s board of commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a rate hike for electricity consumers in order to bolster its work to meet renewable energy goals. Those include eliminating coal as a power source in the next 10 to 15 years and sourcing one-third of its power sold from renewable energy, as well as increasing energy efficiency 15 percent by 2020. Some of the money will also go toward replacing old power poles, about half of which are at least 60 years old, according to a press release from the department.
The increase should average $5.85 more per month for typical residential customers spread out across a five-year period. According to the Los Angeles Times, the board’s approval will send the measure to the city council. The department hopes to put the ordinance in front of the council by mid-February.
The department has already made big strides toward its renewable energy target, with 20 percent of its power coming from renewable sources as of 2010.
Cutting out coal might not be very difficult, either — at least in relative terms. California already uses less coal power than most states, and the Energy Information Administration only lists two coal-fired power plants in California. What are far more ubiquitous are natural gas-powered plants, which produce less greenhouse gas emissions than coal plants but still pollute.
The city of Los Angeles, along with the entire state, has set its sights on renewable energy as a means of cutting down greenhouse gases. Los Angeles has a goal of reducing its emissions to 30 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually by December 2025, which would represent a 45 percent drop since 1990. The city is still working to more accurately measure its emissions now.
But statewide, California is pushing aggressively for renewable energy. Aside from renewable portfolio standards for investor-owned utilities, the state has put a mandate on those companies to buy up storage capacity. Storage capacity could, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute, make renewable energy a more economically attractive prospect to buyers because it would allow them to store energy from the sun during the day, for example, and then use it during the night to avoid buying electricity at peak prices.
The state also passed Senate Bill 350 last year, calling for a doubling of the amount of power it gets from renewable sources.