Los Angeles is abandoning its $5 billion plan to rebuild three aging natural gas-fired power plants, deciding instead to phase out the plants and invest in renewable energy, Reuters reported. Mayor Eric Garcetti argued that the new strategy is necessary if the city hopes to achieve its goal of being carbon-neutral by 2050.
“This is the beginning of the end of natural gas in Los Angeles,” Garcetti said in a statement. “The climate crisis demands that we move more quickly to end dependence on fossil fuel, and that’s what today is all about.”
In 2017, Los Angeles got a third of its power from natural gas — 40 percent of which came from the three gas plants now slated to close. The city has been planning for years to renovate the Scattergood, Haynes, and Harbor facilities, which sit along the California coastline, because of a 2010 state law that requires power plants to stop using ocean water for cooling, according to Reuters. Instead, the city will close the facilities by 2029.
Exactly how the city will replace the lost natural gas capacity with renewables has yet to be determined, the Los Angeles Times reported. The Times also notes that despite this new strategy, the city is still planning to build a new natural gas power plant in Utah to replace a 1,900-megawatt coal-fired facility that currently generates a portion of the city’s electricity.
“The question that staff has somehow heard for a number of years is, ‘Can we?,’ David Wright, General Manager for Los Angeles’ Department of Water and Power, said at a press conference. “I don’t think ‘can we?’ is the right word. It’s ‘How can we?’ Some of the best managers and the best engineers, planners, and operators will take this challenge and will make it work.”