Powering Strong Communities

City Council Vote Marks Next Step in LADWP’s Transition To 100 Percent Carbon-Free Energy

The Los Angeles City Council on Sept. 1 directed the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to take the steps necessary for the city to achieve 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2035.

“This is truly a great day for Los Angeles that puts our city firmly in a leadership position among world cities working to decarbonize the planet,” said Marty Adams, LADWP’s General Manager and Chief Engineer, in a statement. “Our city has set a goal of 100% carbon-free energy by 2035 and we’re here to tackle the challenge and say, LADWP is all in.”

Councilmembers voted on a motion introduced by Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and Mitch O’Farrell. The motion noted that LADWP is going to prepare a strategic long-term resource plan, which will determine the optimal pathway to achieve the 100 percent clean energy goal. It will align with LADWP’s priorities for ensuring power reliability, sustainability, affordability and equity for LADWP’s customers.  

The council also approved a related motion from O’Farrell and Krekorian that will create a strategic plan for equitable workforce hiring, which is aimed at ensuring a just transition to thousands of green new jobs.

Results Of NREL Study Released Earlier This Year

Earlier this year, results of a years-long analysis were released by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which found that meeting Los Angeles’ goal of reliable, 100% renewable electricity by 2045, or even 2035, is achievable with rapid deployment of wind, solar, storage, and other renewable energy technologies this decade.

The results of the study were released by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, United States Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, LADWP Board of Water and Power Commissioners President Cynthia McClain-Hill, Adams, a number of Los Angeles City Council members and Dr. Martin Keller, Executive Director, NREL. They participated in a virtual press event to release the Los Angeles 100% Renewable Energy Study, known as LA100.

More recently, in June, LADWP said it would launch a comprehensive and inclusive, community-driven effort to achieve a just and equitable 100% carbon-free future for all communities of Los Angeles. LADWP’s Board of Water and Power Commissioners on June 23 authorized the public power utility to move forward with LA100 Equity Strategies, which aims to incorporate community-driven and equitable outcomes into the goals of the LA100 study completed by NREL.

LADWP Officials Appear Before Council

Prior to the council’s vote, Adams and Reiko Kerr, LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager-Power System Engineering, Planning, and Technical Services, offered remarks on LA100 and took questions from councilmembers.

“When you talk to anybody in the Department of Energy, they will tell you the only thing they’re talking about in D.C. is the City of Los Angeles and the LA100 study,” Adams told councilmembers. “This is a huge win for the city,” Adams said.

There is also a LA100 next steps plan. “This is the parts and pieces. This is where we’re looking at exactly what we have to complete in the next ten years to reach that clean energy future goal.”

LADWP’s strategic long-term resource plan is a 25-year plan that is examining what LADWP’s staffing and human resources plan needs to be because there will be a “tremendous need for expanding our workforce to get this work done,” he said. The plan is also looking at “how these projects have to dovetail together to make sure we don’t have outages or instability in the system in the meantime.” Operation and maintenance are another component of this plan “to make sure that the power reliability that the city of L.A. has enjoyed not only continues but improves all through the process,” Adams said.

“I promise you that we’re going to take this very seriously and make this happen,” Adams told councilmembers prior to the vote.

 Adams discussed LA100 in an American Public Power Association Public Power Now podcast earlier this year.

“This vote is a vote that will be transformative to the future of the City of Los Angeles,” Councilmember Krekorian said. “This is a vote that will help shape the future of the economy of Southern California. This is a vote that will create thousands and thousands of new, good jobs. It’s a really big deal.”

In a news release related to the vote, Krekorian noted that LADWP has already taken significant steps toward achieving its 100 percent clean energy goal, laying the groundwork to accommodate 580,000 electric vehicles and adding over 1,000 megawatts of energy storage by 2030.    

At the council meeting on Sept. 1, Krekorian asked Adams and Kerr to talk about how LADWP is poised to take advantage of federal and state government infrastructure investment funding opportunities “to be able to begin building the things that we need to build” to get to 100 percent carbon-free energy, to upgrade the transmission and distribution infrastructure “and otherwise take advantage of that funding that’s available.”

Kerr said that green hydrogen has received a lot of attention at both the federal and state level “and so we’ve been in discussions for funding for that. At the state level, there is potential opportunity for green hydrogen and that has multiple benefits.”

She noted that green hydrogen allows firm dispatchable generation that has carbon-free emissions “for those times where you either have an emergency or you lose import capability or there’s no wind and no solar to ensure that we have reliability.” (A recent APPA report on hydrogen notes that green hydrogen or renewable hydrogen is made from renewable energy via electrolysis).

Green hydrogen also provides long duration storage, Kerr noted. She said that this is very important “because when you look at the over generation of renewables in the springtime” there is a large amount of over generation because that time of year is when loads are low, “but you’re really building your generation profile for those peak periods during the summer, so you have all that excess. If we can use that to create the green hydrogen in the spring, you can use that hydrogen to store it” over multiple months until needed in the summer. “We’ll be looking for state funding,” she said.

Kerr noted that LADWP has issued a request for information for green hydrogen in-basin, so there are state opportunities for local green hydrogen.        

In May 2021, LADWP joined a coalition that aims to bring down the cost of green hydrogen. LADWP, along with the Green Hydrogen Coalition and other partners, launched HyDeal LA, a collaboration of developers, green hydrogen off-takers, integrators, equipment manufacturers, investors, and advisors. The group aims to work together to bring the cost of green hydrogen down to $1.50 per kilogram in the Los Angeles Basin by 2030 by creating a commercial green hydrogen cluster at scale.

Joining HyDeal LA marks another significant initiative around green hydrogen for LADWP, which is leading the conversion of the Intermountain Power Project in Delta, Utah to the world’s first turbine intentionally designed and built to operate with a blend of 30% green hydrogen and 70% natural gas when the plant goes into operation in mid-2025. It will be designed to scaleup to 100% carbon free green hydrogen by 2035.

LADWP has some projects that could be considered shovel ready, noted Adams, who went on to say that the utility is working to try to streamline environmental processes because a lot of the costs for the projects relate to “just getting them off the ground, getting them engineered and getting them approved to be constructed.”

Adams said that “We will continue to seek all avenues for resources,” adding that there is “a lot of federal money out there for construction, particularly infrastructure construction and so we are very much focused on getting whatever funds are available because all those funds then decrease the costs that ultimately go to our ratepayers.”