Study shows LA can reach 100% renewables by 2030, with help from storage

A report by Synapse Energy Economics and Food & Water Watch shows that with a combination of new wind and solar sources, investments in storage and energy efficiency and smart management of the grid, the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water (LADWP) can achieve a 100% clean energy system by the 2030.

Los Angeles

The new study shows that Los Angeles can achieve 100% renewable energy by 2030 — and the clean energy transition will be cheaper and easier than expected.

The research shows that the transition to an electricity grid fully powered by renewable energy can be accomplished quickly, without costing ratepayers more than they would otherwise pay.

“It is, in fact, possible to meet 100% of hourly energy needs in LA with renewable sources in 2030,” said report co-author Spencer Fields, an associate with Synapse Energy Economics.

“We have outlined just two of several potential paths towards a clean energy future for Los Angeles,” added Fields. “It is imperative that over the next few years the city and LADWP both take the easy early actions — such as investing more in energy efficiency and solar resources — as well as continuing to establish an appropriate plan of action to conquer the harder questions in the 2020s to complete the transition to an entirely renewable grid.”

While there are many paths to achieving 100% renewable energy, the study compares a status quo scenario with two possible options: One that relies more heavily on utility scale renewables, and one that relies more on distributed renewable energy sources, like rooftop solar.

Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter said that Los Angeles can lead the country in the critical transition to renewable energy.

“The science shows we must immediately transition away from fossil fuels and cities like Los Angeles can and must lead the way in addressing the climate crisis,” says Hauter. “Los Angeles is poised to become a national model for a clean energy transition that brings meaningful reductions in emissions and new economic opportunities. We need our political leaders to have the courage to mandate clean energy. Will Los Angeles step up, or continue business as usual?”

The transition can also be affordable. A 100% renewable plan that relies more heavily on local distributed solar energy is actually cheaper than continuing to rely on fossil fuels.

The study comes as LADWP — the nation’s largest municipal utility serving almost 1.5 million residential customers and businesses — considers scenarios for moving Los Angeles to a 100% renewable energy grid, at the request of the City Council. However, LADWP does not anticipate coming out with its plan until mid-2020 while the city continues to invest in fossil fuels.

“This study shows that there is absolutely no reason for LADWP, Mayor Garcetti or the City Council to drag their feet,” said Alexandra Nagy, senior organizer with Food & Water Watch. “The city’s current plans to invest billions of dollars in new fossil fuel infrastructure, including gas fired power plants, must be nixed as L.A.’s leadership moves ratepayer dollars to the clean energy transition.”

The scenarios in the study define clean energy as wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower. The study models do not rely on credits purchased through California’s cap-and-trade program, unproven technologies like carbon capture or any other market-based schemes.

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