The report found that more than 10,000 clean energy sector jobs could be created, in the LA region, each year starting in 2025.
FINDINGS OF HISTORIC 100 PERCENT RENEWABLE ENERGY STUDY

By Ramona du Houx

MARCH 24, 2021

During the pandemic news that literally brings a ray of sunshine was embraced by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on March 24, 2021 as he unveiled the results of the city’s renewable energy study.

The study showed that transitioning to a low-carbon future to power Los Angeles with 100 percent renewable energy is possible in the next two decades and grow more than 10,000 jobs each year in the process. The city can reach its goal to convert entirely to renewable energy by 2045 through rapid deployment of wind and solar power, electrical storage and hydrogen power.

At the announcement he was joined by United States Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), leading energy scientists, and local elected officials to announce and discuss the findings of the Los Angeles 100 percent Renewable Energy Study (LA100) — an unprecedented analysis of the City’s pathways to reaching a 100 percent renewable energy grid while prioritizing equity, reliability, and affordable rates for local residents.

LADWP is the largest municipal utility in the country.

“Los Angeles isn’t waiting for solutions to the climate crisis to show up on our doorstep — we’re forging the path to a resilient, green power grid ourselves,” said Mayor Garcetti. “This groundbreaking study will help put our City on the fast track to a 100 percent renewable energy future and provide a blueprint for an affordable, reliable, and sustainable system for cities around the world.”

Since January 1, 2020, each new home built in California must be equipped with solar panels under building regulations approved by the California Energy Commission.

LA100 is the result of a three year analysis by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The study looked at how LADWP — a vertically integrated utility that owns its generation, transmission, and distribution system to more than four million people — can meet clean energy targets established by Mayor Garcetti. They study was commissioned by city and federal agencies.

KEY FINDINGS:

  • Rooftop solar will play a key role in creating local clean energy, driven by the fact that utilizing such technology on single-family and multi-unit dwellings would provide sizable savings for LADWP ratepayers. 
  • The electrification of the transportation and building sectors offers the greatest potential for local public health benefits and reduced energy costs, with the greatest impacts seen in historically disadvantaged communities. 
  • More than 10,000 jobs could be created each year starting in 2025.

“With help of NREL’s brilliant scientists, the LA100 study is proof that the clean energy transformation is not only possible, but preferable, for all those who want cleaner air, high-quality jobs, and cheaper utility bills,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “DOE invites all of America’s cities and utilities to join the vanguard of this revolution, so that together we can tackle the climate crisis, create an economic renaissance, and help every community see and feel the benefits of a greener future.”

LADWP currently generates over half of its electricity from renewable and zero-carbon resources. Using cutting-edge technology to combine dozens of economic, energy, and public health models. LA100 produced more than 100 million simulations to build on that record and identify a series of pathways that will lead the Department to 100 percent renewable energy.

The analysis affirms that reaching a 100 percent renewable, reliable, and resilient grid will also provide a wide range of health and economic benefits to Angelenos.  

Each pathway included in the study follows a similar trajectory, with 73 percent-92 percent of renewable energy generation coming through wind and solar resources. This range would be enabled by the installation of additional battery storage technologies and new or upgraded transmission lines that will allow the utility to reserve and dispatch power to meet high demand periods. 

“Reliability of the grid is paramount — especially in a future when more consumer products like cars are electrified. Our models subjected the grid to multiple stresses — from higher temperatures due to climate change, to wildfire risks that could take out transmission lines for weeks or even months at a time,” said Dr. Jaquelin Cochran, manager of NREL’s grid systems analysis group and principal investigator of the LA100 study.

To meet the remaining demand LADWP will need to bring more nascent forms of clean energy generation into the mix. It points to the infrastructure required to produce and store green hydrogen power as a leading option to bridge this gap, and leaves room for other forms of energy generation that will need to be developed in the years ahead to help store and provide clean power during periods of extremely high demand. 

“Through LA100, we now have several viable paths to achieve 100 percent renewable energy for Los Angeles while remaining true to the core principles of reliability, environmental stewardship, environmental justice, resiliency, and affordability,” said LA Board of Water and Power Commissioners President Cynthia McClain-Hill. “This is important because our charge is to reduce carbon emissions in ways that build and uplift the quality of life for everyone in Los Angeles. LA100 shows we can do that by creating jobs and opportunities and engaging our customers in being part of the solution, while building a stronger and more vibrant Los Angeles.”

The City required the analysis to prioritize environmental justice, from ensuring transparency and community input into decisions to broadening the study’s scope to analyze the impact on emissions reductions in low-income communities. The study found that these emission reductions strategies, particularly through the transportation and buildings sectors, depend on a fully decarbonized grid to realize their full health benefits.

“As severe climate breakdown rears its ugly head across the world in the form of massive wildfires, freak storm events and droughts, it is essential LA continues to lead the way with aggressive climate action,” said LA Councilmember Paul Koretz, Elected Officials to Protect America – California Leadership Council member. “In December, we demolished the Navajo Generating Station Coal Plant, and in January, we hired our Climate Emergency Mobilization Director in order to center our climate action in environmental justice. Today’s announcement completes our climate hat trick.  And we are just getting warmed up.”

Elected Officials to Protect America – California is a coalition of lawmakers from 49 counties in the state who are working towards the goal of transitioning California to 100 percent clean, renewable energy. EOPA sent a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom signed by 315 elected officials demanding that he transition to that goal immediately, stop issuing any more oil and gas permits and establish 2, 500 foot safety setbacks from oil and gas productions near residential homes, schools and public places for the health and well being of people living in those communities. EOPA-CA’s members are working in their respective communities to transition to 100 percent, clean renewable energy.

“Getting to 100 percent clean energy as soon as possible is not a goal; it is an imperative,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin, who signed the EOPA -CA letter. Bonin also partnered with environmental groups and co-sponsored the motion initiating the study. “We need aggressive action to force an urgent and just transition to a fossil-free tomorrow. It is how we safeguard our children’s future. It is how we preserve a livable Los Angeles. It is how we protect our neighborhoods and ensure equity.”

Even though many of the recommendations of the report are grounded in the realities of Los Angeles’ current renewable energy portfolio, most of the investments, methodologies, and insights offered by the study are broadly applicable to cities and electric grids statewide, country wide and worldwide.  

“While I worked to enact SB 100 to put California on a path to 100 percent clean energy by 2045, this study spearheaded by Mayor Garcetti places LA on a trajectory to meet this timeline, if not sooner, and exemplify to the rest of the nation how it can be done,” said Councilmember Kevin De León, former Assembly member. “The findings of this comprehensive study highlight the critical importance of emissions reductions in low-income communities, particularly resulting from the growth of electric vehicles. This is essential if we’re to achieve environmental justice for communities, like mine, that for too long have had to bear a disproportionate exposure to environmental pollutants and carcinogens.”

Garcetti was also joined by other Los Angeles City Council members: Paul Krekorian, Mitch O’Farrell, Curren Price, Mark Ridley-Thomas, who back the effort and report.

To learn more about the LA100 study, visit NREL’s website here.