While Los Angeles mayoral and city council candidates are trying to establish their green credentials in the run-up to election season, the city's current mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, made news with a major recent environmental announcement: Los Angeles will phase out energy derived from coal by 2025.
The mayor made the announcement at "What a Mayor Can Do to Green a City," a panel that was part of a symposium, Urban Sustainability in North American Cities, hosted by UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, Canadian Studies at UCLA, and UCLA's California Center for Sustainable Communities. It comes in the wake of major moves toward sustainable energy use in the city, including deals to get 250 megawatts of solar power from K Road Moapa Solar in Nevada and 210 megawatts from Copper Mountain Solar 3, also in Nevada. Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power approved a Solar Feed-In Tariff Program in which the department will buy 100 megawatts of solar power from third parties.
Currently, Los Angeles gets almost 40 percent of its power from two out-of-state coal plants, the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona and the Intermountain Power Plant in Utah. The city has contracts with the two plants that Villaraigosa is renegotiating in order to end Los Angeles' reliance on coal power. Recommendations from the department's Integrated Resource Plan called for ending the relationship with the Navajo plant in 2015; discussions with the Intermountain plant would focus on converting the facility to resources that don't produce as many emissions as coal.
This has been a longtime goal for outgoing mayor Villaraigosa—he stated his intention to get rid of coal power in the city during his second inauguration, in 2009. According to reports, he called the move one of his proudest accomplishments in office. It also sets a high bar for whoever replaces him, although two of the frontrunners in this year's mayoral race, Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti, have both stated their support for green initiatives and an increased role for solar in the city's power supply.