Los Angeles Uses Municipal Utility For GHG Reduction Targets

Date: 23 May 2007 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

In mid-May, Los Angeles’ Mayor announced a new climate change action plan that calls for the LA municipal utility to increase its renewable energy portfolio to reach 35 percent by 2020. This in combination with about 50 other proposed actions will work to reduce GHG emissions in the city of angels to 35 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

In announcing the plan Mayor Villaraigosa said, “We’re setting the green standard in LA. Reducing our carbon footprint by 35% below 1990 levels is the most ambitious goal set by a major American city.”

Democratic Energy notes that both Los Angeles and New York City have recently issued climate change action plans. But unlike New York City’s plan, Los Angeles appears to still be on track to reach the GHG reduction targets of the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement that called for participants to meet the Kyoto Protocol goals (reducing emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. ) “It’s very welcome news that Los Angeles has put forward a plan, although not explicitly stated, that will meet the goals of the U.S. Mayor’s initiative,” said Democratic Energy editor, John Bailey. “Plans are important but if more and more planning takes the place of actual implementation, we will simply not get to where the science is telling us we need to go in terms of reducing emissions,” he added. Unlike Los Angeles, the New York City climate change action plan puts NYC on a path to not meet the Kyoto GHG reduction target by 2012.

The Los Angeles plan shows how cities with municipally owned and controlled electric utilities can leverage that entity into a GHG reduction machine. Since 2005, LADWP has more than doubled its portfolio of renewable energy from less than 3 percent to more than 8 percent today by purchasing wind, solar, and geothermal power. However, Los Angeles still generates most of its electricity from coal and natural gas, along with some hydroelectric and nuclear energy. Another key component of their GHG reduction plan is to not renew contracts for power imports from coal-fired plants. The coal fired power would be replaced by cleaner resources, natural gas or renewables.

Since about one-third of the citywide GHG emissions come from the generation of electricity, by expanding its renewable energy portfolio to 35 percent, that policy alone can get LA about one-third of the total GHG reductions that it is seeking by 2030. Cities that don’t own their electric systems are often at the mercy of state level policymakers and efforts to adopt state-level renewable energy portfolio standards.


  • Summary of Green LA Climate Action Plan – issued May 15, 2007
  • GREEN LA: An Action Plan to Lead the Nation In Fighting Global Warming – City of Los Angeles, May 2007
  • Los Angeles Environmental Affairs Department
  • New Rules Project’s section of Climate Changerules
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John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he develops tools that allow communities to take charge of their energy future, and pursue the maximum economic benefits of the transition to 100% renewable power.