As Los Angeles sets out to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2035, the City Council Wednesday instructed city departments to create a plan for a municipal solar and storage program using city-owned buildings.
A $30 million investment for the program was first announced on Sept. 27 by Mayor Eric Garcetti, who called it “a step to build a more sustainable city starting with buildings that the city owns, the city controls and the city can lead by example in making sure that we have renewable energy.”
The $30 million was allocated in the 2021-22 fiscal year budget. The motion to create the municipal solar and storage program was approved Wednesday by a unanimous vote.
“As the nation’s second largest city, Los Angeles has an outsized opportunity to not only set a national, but a global precedent for how we achieve clean energy to mitigate the effects of climate change,” Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said before the vote.
“We are moving toward achieving our 100% carbon-free Los Angeles by 2035, and colleagues, it’s the end of 2021, we’ve got 13 years to do this,” he added. “No matter what we do now, we need to begin this work earlier rather than later.”
The motion instructed the city administrative officer and the chief legislative analyst to draft a plan to create a sustainable municipal solar and storage program that would include the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the Department of General Services, the Bureau of Engineering, the Bureau of Street Services, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Fire Department, the Department of Transportation, the Public Library Department, the Department of Recreation and Parks, the Emergency Management Department and the Los Angeles Zoo.
“Our department maintains over 600 buildings where, in the past five years, we saved 76 million kWh from various energy conservation projects,” said Tony Royster, general manager of the General Services Department, when the motion was introduced. “With this funding, Los Angeles can continue to lead by example and implement the next phase of clean energy projects to make our buildings more resilient.”
The motion also ordered an assessment to identify up to 25 facilities per department that are “strong candidates” for solar projects for their high degree of solar generation efficiency, high community value, shovel-readiness and opportunities for multiple clean energy interventions. Priority would be given to buildings located in disadvantaged parts of the city.
On Sept. 1, the City Council moved up the city’s deadline to get to 100% renewable energy by a decade, from 2045 to 2035. The transition is expected to create 9,500 jobs and include an investment of between $57 billion and $87 billion, but officials noted that much of the investment would overlap with already needed infrastructure replacement.
The 2035 deadline came after the city released the LA100 Study, which found that the LADWP can reach 100% renewable energy by 2045 or sooner if it rapidly deploys wind and solar power, electrical storage and other technologies.
According to the study — which was conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory — the city can dramatically reduce its greenhouse gases, from 76% to 99% less than 2020 levels, by 2030 if officials begin to work toward those goals now. The study provided pathways to reach those goals, and each one has a similar trajectory, with 73% to 92% of renewable energy generation coming from wind and solar resources.
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