Los Angeles ditches plans to invest billions in fossil fuels

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's Scattergood Generating Station in El Segundo. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's Scattergood Generating Station in El Segundo. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles is abandoning a plan to spend billions of dollars rebuilding three natural gas power plants along the coast, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday, in a move to get the city closer to its goal of 100% renewable energy and improve air quality in highly polluted communities.

The mayor’s decision marks an abrupt change of course for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, where top staffers have argued in recent months hat the gas plants are critical to keeping the lights on in the city. Environmental groups have urged DWP to replace the aging facilities with cleaner alternatives, saying the gas-fired plants need to go because they contribute to climate change and local air pollution.

Los Angeles has steadily moved away from coal for electricity, divesting from the Navajo plant in Arizona three years ago and announcing plans to stop buying power from Utah’s Intermountain plant by 2025. But with coal, the most polluting fossil fuel, now nearly removed from the city’s energy mix, it’s time to start planning for a future with zero planet-warming energy sources, Garcetti said Monday — and that means no natural gas.

“Instead of saying all the reasons why not, get to a reason as to why,” Garcetti said.

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IndustryLauren Rose