L.A. Energy: Killing Coal by 2020 with a new Solar Feed-In Tariff

Los Angeles has come up on my radar again this month. Twice actually. First when it topped the EPA's list of cities with the most Energy Star rated buildings. And then again when it was announced that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is proposing a new Carbon Reduction surcharge that would create a $168 million annual pot for local renewable energy and efficiency.

This is the second year that L.A. has placed first on the EPA's list. The city has come a long way since starting16 building efficiency pilot projects in 1996. But buildings are only part of L.A.'s ambitious energy plans: 20% renewables by the end of this year, a complete phase out of coal-fired electricity and a 10% reduction in demand by 2020. But will they get there?

To meet their goals, the city is currently building the largest municipally owned wind farm in North America and plans for large private solar development in the storied Owens Valley are being discussed. The new Carbon Reduction surcharge would support smaller generators by funding for a new solar feed-in tariff as well as further energy efficiency initiatives. The tiered charge would hit large users hardest, increasing their bills by up to 28%. Smaller increases for residents will mean on average an extra $3 a month.

What L.A. has on the drawing board is a truly ambitious redesign of the city's energy system. That kind of work takes a dependable flow of money. You can't run large longterm projects if you are going from grant to grant. Other cities like Toronto, Berkeley and Portland are funding energy retrofits through a variety of creative loan structures. But – at least on paper – what L.A. is aiming for is something much bigger.

There has predictably been push-back against what some are calling a “hidden tax.” On the other hand unions in particular are coming out in support of the proposal. An estimated 16,000 to 18,000 new jobs in the energy and building trades is hard to ignore. But similar measures, like last year's Solar B ballot measure, have been killed by voters.
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I know we've got some Angelinos in the audience. Anyone who knows more about the city's progress to meeting its 20% renewables by 2010 goal, or public opinion on the new surcharge: the comment field is there for you.

Comments

2 Responses to "L.A. Energy: Killing Coal by 2020 with a new Solar Feed-In Tariff"

Solar Taylen said... 26 March 2010 at 13:31

good for LA, getting rid of coal and picking up the renewable energy! huge step from a major city!

Blogger said... 27 January 2017 at 03:58

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This is a blog for news and views on the future of sustainable cites. A major revamp is in the works. Until then I am keeping this version up as an archive of my past writing.

You can expect occasional updates, but not with the same frequency as in the past.

You can also find my writing on urban redesign and sustainability in ReNew Canada, The Mark, Sustainable Cities Canada, WorldChanging, and other more specialized academic publications.

Info on my consulting work, c.v. and current research focus is all here.


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