Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Thursday said the city reached an historic milestone last year by drawing 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. The future is another question.
Five years ago, Villaraigosa ordered L.A.’s city-owned utility to increase its renewable energy sources fourfold, to 20 percent.
“We’ve turned this big ship that we call the Department of Water and Power in a new direction – in a cleaner, more sustainable direction," said Villaraigosa.
Of the DWP’s renewable energy, half comes from wind, a third from hydroelectric and a fifth from geothermal and biofuels. Just 1 percent comes from solar – a source the mayor vowed to expand.
Most of L.A.'s energy still comes from natural gas and coal.
Villaraigosa conceded that maintaining the city’s renewable portfolio may be tough.
“It will go up and down. I don’t think it will go down as far as 13 percent."
Thirteen percent – that's what one city report said could happen if L.A. fails to invest in green energy.
“I think everyone in this room is smart enough to understand there is no free lunch," said DWP Interim General Manager Austin Beutner.
But the cost of fossil fuels is rising too – in dollars, in human health and in climate change.
That's why Mayor Villaraigosa said he wants to see the DWP draw a third of its energy from renewable sources within a decade. With polls showing many voters wanting more renewable energy, it's also good politics.