Los Angeles Rejects Hoover Dam from City RPS

The Los Angeles City Council passed language restricting electricity generated by the Hoover Dam from inclusion in the city’s recently adopted 20 percent by 2017 Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS). The move should spur as much as 1,000 MW of new renewable energy projects over the next 13 years to satisfy the new requirements for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP).

The vote comes two years after the California Legislature passed a law requiring all investor-owned utilities in the state to meet a 20 percent by 2017 clean energy goal while requiring all publicly-owned utilities to adopt their own policies. Because Los Angeles is the largest publicly owned utility in the country, and generates as much if not more power than 19 states, a coalition of environmental groups has been advocating that Los Angeles join the state in developing the region’s renewable energy resources. According to Environment California, over the past two years, more than 20,000 Los Angeles residents have voiced their support for a strong clean energy standard in Los Angeles. “Today’s vote ultimately means more renewable energy, cleaner air, and a more affordable, stable energy supply for Los Angeles,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, Clean Energy Advocate for Environment California. “It’s been a two-year-long David vs. Goliath battle but today, the public and the environment, clearly won out over the fossil fuel lobby.” Los Angeles DWP currently generates 50 percent of its electricity from coal power plants located in Nevada, Arizona and Utah making it one of the dirtiest publicly owned utilities in the country. Approximately 10-12 percent of the city’s electricity comes from hydroelectric power plants, with Hoover Dam, located along the Colorado River in Arizona, making up the bulk of this supply. Environmental groups were opposed to including Hoover Dam in the RPS arguing that it would have reduced the city’s investment in new renewable energy by up to 300 MW while setting a bad precedent nationally. Without Hoover, Los Angeles will have to develop more than 1,000 MW of new renewable energy capacity over the next thirteen years to meet its 20 percent by 2017 goal. In addition to a contract with Hoover Dam that expires in 2017, the DWP owns 14 small-sized hydroelectric facilities along the Los Angeles Aqueduct and Owens Valley. These facilities range in size from less than 1 MW to 69 MW. By comparison, California state law excludes any hydroelectric plant greater than 30 MW in size from counting toward the state’s RPS.
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