News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.

Billboards Urge L.A. Mayor to Up City's Renewable Energy

A billboard the Los Angeles Business Council and Sierra Club are running throughout the city of Los Angeles. Image courtesy the Sierra Club

Given the last renewable energy-related billboard that mentioned Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -- a well-placed sign on the 10 near its entrance to the Coachella Valley slamming the mayor for his support of the proposed "Green Path North" transmission line -- you might expect him to be a little jumpy to hear there are new ones. But unlike the earlier billboards, which helped turn the tide against the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's (LADWP) ill-advised transmission route through the unspoiled High Desert, this campaign is patting Villaraigosa on the back for LADWP's past accomplishments, and urging him on to new accomplishments.

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The billboards, two in the Wilshire corridor at Wilton and La Brea, and one at Sepulveda and La Tijera, convey the Sierra Club and Los Angeles Business Council's appreciation for the mayor's efforts to break California's largest city of the coal habit, while creating green jobs in the process.

"The LADWP, working under Mayor Villaraigosa's goals to get our city off of coal by 2020, has taken major steps forward in just the past few weeks alone to prepare a switch to clean energy" said Evan Gillespie of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, in a press release.

"The expansion of renewable energy, which now includes a groundbreaking agreement to build a solar project on the Moapa Band of Paiutes reservation -- one of the first of its kind on Native American tribal land -- represents a major tipping point for Los Angeles."

"As Los Angeles moves away from coal-fired power, we're thrilled LADWP is using programs like the CLEAN LA solar rooftop program which creates businesses and jobs," added Mary Leslie of the Los Angeles Business Council. "This program will create 150 megawatts of rooftop solar power by 2016, create more than 4,500 jobs in rooftop solar and create $500 million in economic development."

The Moapa solar project would provide up to 250 megawatts of power to LADWP, minus losses from transmission, maintenance, and reduced output during cloudy days. LADWP, the nation's largest municipal utility, still obtains as much as 39% of its power from two coal-fired power plants -- the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona and Utah's Intermountain Power Project.

A recently approved rate hike would allow the utility to put more funding into long-term power purchase agreements with renewable energy providers, which would help LADWP phase out its relationship with the coal-fired plants. The two plants have been implicated in reduced visibility in southwestern National Parks, as well as harming local public health and contributing to California's carbon footprint.

Villaraigosa, who has been busy working on the Democratic presidential campaign this week, had not responded to the ad campaign at press time.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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