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Lights Out?

LA WATCHDOG--The number one priority of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is to keep the lights on and the water flowing. 

But in its quest for 100% renewable energy by 2045, DWP, as a result of a surprise pronouncement in February by Mayor Eric Garcetti, will be phasing out its three coastal, gas fired generating stations (Scattergood, Haynes, and Harbor) without a plan to replace the power from these facilities that generate power when the sun is not shining and wind is not blowing.  

The Department also has plans to cut its emissions by replacing its Utah based 1,800 megawatt coal fired Intermountain Power Plant in 2025 with a state of the art 840 megawatt gas fired facility.  Again, this new gas plant will have the ability to supply electricity 24/7, rain or shine, and send it to Los Angeles via the existing transmission line.  

But now the environmental purists want to eliminate the proposed Utah gas plant even though it will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 75%.  But once again, there is not a realistic plan to replace this base load power, not an idle concern if reliability is the top priority of the Power System.  

As an alternative, the Department is considering the use of “green hydrogen” as a fuel source.  Under this plan, the Department will use electrolysis to generate hydrogen from water.  It will also equip the turbines at the new Utah gas plant with turbines that can operate on a blend that contains 30% hydrogen and 70% natural gas.  And over time, more hydrogen would be included in the mix until 100% hydrogen is used in 2045, completing the journey to 100% clean energy. 

But according to a source cited in a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, this technology is more “theoretical” at this point and there “are not any serious pilot projects underway” according to the source, Ben Gallagher, an “expert in carbon and emerging technology at Wood Mackenzie.” 

In other words, DWP and its Ratepayers will be lab rats and deep pockets for this very risky experiment championed by politicos that occupy City Hall.  

The net is that Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Herb Wesson led City Council, and the politically appointed DWP Board of Commissioners want to bet on an unproven technology to provide the City of Los Angeles with reliable source of power at the same time that the Department has not developed a reliable source of in-basin power to replace the three coastal generating facilities.  

A truly scary thought for all Angelenos and the City’s economy.  The last one out will not have to turn off the lights. 

 

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DWP’s Green Hydrogen Future: The hydrogen pathway at Intermountain Power Plant represents a first-of-its kind opportunity for the western energy grid.  Utilizing its existing transmission capabilities to power hydrogen-generating electrolyzers, the fuel can be either stored in the massive geologic salt formation or burned the existing combustion generators.”

 

 (Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  lajack@gmail.com.)

-cw