LADWP Lays Out Critical Next Steps to Achieve 100% Carbon-Free Power Grid
By Carol Tucker
Following the conclusion of the groundbreaking Los Angeles 100% Renewable Energy Study (LA100), the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) will move forward with critical next steps toward transforming the city’s power supply to 100% carbon-free by 2035, and the interim milestones of 80% renewable energy and 97% carbon-free by 2030.
In a presentation to the Board of Water and Power Commissioners, LADWP officials laid out the necessary actions that must begin as soon as possible, especially because major projects that involve upgrading transmission lines and generation systems can take years, if not a decade or more. “The LA100 Study found several viable pathways toward developing a 100% renewable energy supply but stopped short of making a recommendation,” said Jason Rondou, Director of Clean Grid LA Strategies at LADWP. “What we’re presenting today are the critical actions that are necessary to make progress toward that 100% goal – whichever pathway is ultimately selected.”
The LA100 study, led by the U.S. Department of Defense National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) developed four scenarios with the same end goal – 100% renewable energy – although they differed in what energy resources would qualify as renewable or clean energy technology and the quantities and timing of those investments. Each scenario was evaluated under three different projections of energy demand. But all LA100 scenarios point to actions that LADWP can take now to stay on track to achieve a 100% renewable or 100% carbon-free energy supply. These include:
- Increase distributed energy resources equitably: All LA100 scenarios show that customers will play a bigger role in L.A.’s clean energy future through implementing energy efficiency, electrifying buildings and driving electric vehicles, installing solar on their homes and businesses, and enrolling in flexible demand management programs such as demand response.
- Increase renewable energy: LADWP will need to rapidly secure or develop an estimated 3,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy and energy storage as well as smaller, locally distributed, solar generation coupled with batteries.
- Accelerate new transmission: LADWP has identified the need to complete 10 critical transmission projects over the next 10 years to ensure grid reliability and to bring renewable energy to where it is needed within the city.
- Transform local generation: All LA100 scenarios point to the need for some type of renewably fueled combustion generation, which can provide power to the city at any time. While this type of power generation would be used infrequently, it is considered essential to keeping the lights on during the most extreme situations, such as a wildfire causing the loss of transmission.
- Expand energy storage: LADWP will need to build over 1,000 MW of short-duration energy storage by 2030 to support the electrical capacity needs within Los Angeles.
LADWP officials stressed the need to expand distributed energy programs in underserved, or disadvantaged communities. Toward this end, the Board of Water and Power Commissioners approved a new study, LA100 Equity Strategies, designed to incorporate NREL’s research and analysis to achieve specific, community-driven and equitable outcomes from the clean energy transition.
Launching July 1, LA100 Equities Strategies recognizes the need for “legitimate and substantive engagement with our communities and stakeholders if we are to lead the state and nation on decarbonization and create a model that other utilities can replicate. Put simply, a just transition is equally important as a 100% renewables transition,” said LADWP Board President Cynthia McClain-Hill.
“LA100 Equity Strategies is a critical next step on the path to 100% renewables, with the goal of lifting up all Angelenos so that everyone will share in the benefits of clean energy.”
“These communities have the greatest need for managing their energy to reduce their costs. They are also among the hardest customers to reach,” Rondou said. “Going forward, our goal is to achieve at least 50% participation from disadvantaged communities in our energy efficiency, customer solar, demand response and other distributed generation programs.”
This summer, LADWP will begin the next Strategic Long-Term Resource Plan (SLTRP). The SLTRP will incorporate the findings of the LA100 study when evaluating alternative strategies in line with LADWP’s regulatory requirements and environmental policy goals, while maintaining power reliability and minimizing the financial impact on LADWP’s customers. The planning process will also include
a community advisory group, similar to the LA100 Advisory Group, to ensure plans reflect the input of the communities and customers we serve.
Other next steps include launching the environmental review process for the 10 new transmission projects within the Los Angeles Basin, identified through studies as critically necessary to support the increase of renewable energy, and ensure reliability as local in-basin natural gas plants are phased out. To begin transforming local generation, LADWP plans to issue a request for information (RFI) to explore options for green hydrogen power technologies and best practices.
“We view green hydrogen pathways within the L.A. Basin as critical to further our clean energy goals,” Rondou said.