Los Angeles to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2035 following unanimous city council vote

The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to have the Department of Water and Power transition to 100% renewable energy by 2035, as well as develop a long-term hiring plan for nearly 10,000 "green" jobs.

The 2035 deadline is a decade earlier than the city's previous goal. The motion, which passed 12-0, also directs the LADWP to report every six months on the transition to renewable energy to the City Council's Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice and River Committee.

The transition is expected to create 9,500 jobs and include an investment of between $57 billion and $87 billion, but LADWP  General Manager Martin Adams noted that much of the investment would overlap with already needed infrastructure replacement.

"When this study started three-and-a-half years ago ... the idea was to be where we want to be by 2045. So we have now shaved a decade off that timetable and we know we have a roadmap that will get us to 100% clean energy by 2035," Adams said.

"What we are doing is setting the stage for the country and ultimately for the world ...," he said. "I promise you that we are going to take this very seriously and make this happen."

Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who chairs the Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice and River Committee and introduced the motion with Councilman Paul Krekorian, said the transition to 100% renewable energy in Los Angeles is "probably the top issue of the day."

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"A couple of weeks ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, published a `Code Red For Humanity' report, stating that it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed our Earth at an unprecedented rate and that our weather extremes will only become more severe," O'Farrell said. "LA100 is not a utopian gesture. It is a work plan for a world in trouble."

On March 24, the city released the LA100 Study, which found that the DWP -- the nation's largest municipal utility -- can reach the city's goal by 2045 or sooner if it rapidly deploys wind and solar power, electrical storage and other technologies.

The study, conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory in partnership with the LADWP and USC, was touted as one of the largest studies of its kind conducted by the federal government.

"I will tell you that when you talk to anybody in the Department of Energy, they will tell you the only thing they're talking about in (Washington) D.C. is the city of Los Angeles and the LA100 Study. This is a huge win for the city," Adams told council members Wednesday.

The study found that the city can dramatically reduce its greenhouse gases, from 76% to 99% less than 2020 levels, by 2030 if officials begin to work toward those goals now. The study provided pathways to reach those goals, and each one has a similar trajectory, with 73% to 92% of renewable energy generation coming from wind and solar resources.

The study was initiated by a motion introduced in 2016 by Krekorian and Councilman Mike Bonin, who on Wednesday thanked the climate activist organizations Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch and Sunrise Movement for moving the city forward on renewable energy.

"This is important for Los Angeles. This is one of the most important things we will ever do ... I think what is important from this today is that we realize that we have the power to make the change," Bonin said.

The City Council also ordered the LADWP to create a long-term hiring and workforce plan focused on "ensuring project labor agreements, prevailing wage and targeted hiring requirements" and increasing hiring from neighborhoods that are "environmentally and economically disadvantaged."

"Becoming a 100% sustainable city requires a transition to a green economy that will provide thousands of environmentally-friendly jobs for current and future workplace here in Los Angeles," O'Farrell said.

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