LA City Council Meeting - Photo courtesy of LACC livestream

The Los Angeles City Council again delayed a final vote Wednesday on a much-debated plan to shift the Scattergood Generating Station, a power plant in Playa del Rey, to be powered by green hydrogen instead of natural gas.

The item passed 8-3 on its first reading in December, not garnering enough votes to skip a second vote for final approval. The second consideration was initially scheduled prior to the winter recess, but the item was delayed with new council members joining in between the two readings. It was delayed again on Wednesday until Feb. 8.

The council had voted to authorize a competitive bid proposal process for the estimated $800 million plan, over the objections of some environmental groups concerned about the impact of green hydrogen on the climate and lack of transparency from officials.

The dynamics of the vote could change given that there is a new council, with five new members joining. Two of the members who voted in favor and two who voted against it the first time are no longer on the council.

One of the new council members, Eunisses Hernandez, called for a separate vote on the Scattergood item during Wednesday’s meeting, an indication that she would not be in favor.

Two other new members, Katy Young Yaroslavsky and Traci Park, filed a motion Wednesday seeking a report from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to provide more context to the use of green hydrogen at the plant. The requests included potential alternatives to the project and the public health risks of using green hydrogen.

Jasmin Vargas, senior policy adviser at Food & Water Watch, told City News Service after the first delay that she was glad the new council members would have a chance to learn more about the issue before voting.

In December, Council President Paul Krekorian called the plan necessary for Los Angeles to meet its goal of achieving 100% clean energy by 2035.

Without a significant generating resource at Scattergood, the city would see energy reliability issues, according to Krekorian, who added that the council was voting on just the procurement process.

“This is barely the first step on the beginning of a potential journey toward green hydrogen at Scattergood,” Krekorian said, adding that the council will be engaged in answering questions ahead of full approval.

According to a resolution approved by the Board of Water and Power Commissioners in August, the shift to green hydrogen would help the department reach its goal of transitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2035.

But environmental groups have pushed back. According to Food & Water Watch, hydrogen still produces emissions that can threaten the climate, would require more than 122 million gallons of water to power the plant and cost more than solar, wind or battery storage.

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