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Greening Los Angeles
Jamais Cascio, 9 Jul 04

When one thinks of the city of Los Angeles, "environmentalism" doesn't immediately come to mind. LA is infamous for its suburban sprawl, automobile culture, and seemingly-constant layer of smog. But this doesn't mean that LA isn't trying to change. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the largest municipal utility in the nation, has an aggressive mix of rebate and efficiency programs for consumers (above and beyond those offered by the state of California), as well as programs for businesses.

But points us to a recent announcement by LADWP requesting proposals for the provision of renewable energy to the utility. According to Solar Access News, LADWP is "seeking to acquire up to 1,320,000 MW-hours per year of renewable energy by the end of 2010," or 13 percent of its energy supply. This is a step towards the larger goal of 20 percent by 2017.

This LADWP announcement, while itself quite laudible, is actually part of a larger program already underway to shift Los Angeles towards much cleaner energy production and much more efficient energy use:

Since adopting the IRP [Integrated Resource Plan], LADWP has moved forward with a number of projects that will produce renewable energy, reduce emissions, and increase energy efficiency.

These include the 120-megawatt Pine Tree Wind project and an agreement to purchase 40 megawatts of power annually from a proposed BioConverter green waste digestion facility. In addition, LADWP has increased energy efficiency and decreased emissions in Los Angeles by "repowering" its aging, in-basin natural gas powered generating units with combined cycle generators and state-of-the-art emissions technology, resulting in over 75% emissions reductions.

Moreover, LADWP is administering a $150 million program to install rooftop solar photovoltaic systems throughout Los Angeles. The Department is also modernizing its hydroelectric facility in San Francisquito Canyon, and installed 50 microturbines at Lopez Canyon Landfill that convert methane gas into energy.

The geography of Los Angeles may never lend itself to totally clean air and high-density, high-efficiency communities. But programs like these are a welcome step towards making one of the largest (and historically one of the most environmentally unsound) urban areas in the country a much cleaner and greener place to live.

(Thanks, Mack Reed)

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