It's Official: Los Angeles Coal Free by 2025

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa | Photo: David Starkopf / Office of the Mayor /Flickr/Creative Commons License

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced today that the city of Los Angeles -- through its municipal utility, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) -- is phasing out use of coal-fired electrical power in the next 12 years. The announcement formalizes a commitment Villaraigosa made at a public event at UCLA last month.

"The era of coal is over. Today we affirm our commitment to make Los Angeles a cleaner, greener, more sustainable city," Villaraigosa said in a press release. "By divesting from coal and investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency, we reduce our carbon footprint and set a precedent for the national power market."

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The announcement comes as LADWP's Board of Commissioners approved a plan to change the utility's contract with the Intermountain Power Plant (IPP) in Delta, Utah, one of two coal-fired power plants from which LADWP still buys power. Two thirds of the coal-fired power used in L.A. comes from IPP. Under the new terms of the agreement -- still subject to approval by Los Angeles' City Council -- IPP would instead sell LADWP power from a natural gas-fired plant.

DWP will be selling its stake in the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona, which provides the other third of Los Angeles' coal-fired power, by 2015. The Arizona utility Salt River Project operates that power plant, long criticized for dirtying the air in some of America's most-visited National Parks. That station won't be shutting down anytime soon: the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation uses a quarter of the plant's 2,250-megawatt output to pump water from the Colorado River into the Central Arizona Project's aqueducts, which supply Phoenix and Tucson.

According to the Mayor's office, ending the purchase of power from IPP and Navajo will reduce Los Angeles' greenhouse gas emissions to 60 percent of what they were in 1990.

"Mayor Villaraigosa's decision to end Los Angeles' reliance on dirty coal and guide the city to a more sustainable future is a bold step on the path towards solving the climate crisis," said former Vice President and climate activist Al Gore, who will be celebrating the decision in a public event in Los Angeles on Friday. "This courageous action should serve as an example to leaders all across our country; we have the tools at hand, it's time to act."

For ongoing environmental coverage in March 2017 and afterward, please visit our show Earth Focus, or browse Redefine for historic material.
KCET's award-winning environment news project Redefine ran from July 2012 through February 2017.

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