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Podcast / Audio

Los Angeles - A Global Energy Pioneer

image credit: Martin Rosenberg
Martin Rosenberg's picture
Journalist, Author, Social Media and Conference Architect Hippo Energy Media

Experienced journalist, executive conference architect, strategic thinker with a demonstrated history of working in information services. Strong professional skilled in Copywriting, Editing...

  • Member since 2005
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  • Aug 6, 2021 12:15 am GMT
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Los Angeles aims to be a global trendsetter in renewables and sustainability with a goal of going 100% renewable by 2035. In this episode of Grid Talk, host Marty Rosenberg talks with Lauren Faber O’Connor who is the Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Los Angeles. The discussion focuses on how L.A. is achieving its goal.

“We have the power within this city to be able to do that because we control our energy operations through municipal utilities so it’s an incredibly exciting process,” said O’Connor. 

Ms. O’Connor also talks about the scale of the project and the impacts beyond Los Angeles.

“Not only are we doing right by Angelinos by leading the charge and really making sure that we are ushering in a clean and reliable and affordable energy system, but we know that what we do in LA has reverberations way beyond our border. Climate change is indeed a global challenge and so what we do here really matter from a global stage.” 

“We are moving markets when it comes to our pursuit of renewable energy of distributed local clean generation. New technologies that we’re piloting here in Los Angeles – it has the ability to really move and commercialize new types of technology that’s going to be needed not just in LA but anywhere else.”

Ms. O’Connor has spent her career working on environmental issues from serving as West Coast Political Director for the Environmental Defense Fund to being appointed Assistant Secretary for Climate Change Programs at the California Environmental Protection Agency. 

Ms. O’Connor holds a Bachelor’s degree in Earth Systems and Economics from Stanford University, and Master’s degree in Climate and Society from Columbia University.

Grid Talk is a podcast featuring the leaders and innovators shaping the 21st century grid. Hear the stories—in their own words—of how they are meeting the challenges and transitioning their businesses to operate successfully in a new era of evolving markets, changing regulations, higher customer expectation, increasing cybersecurity threats, demands for cleaner energy sources, growing customer-owned generations and emerging technology. The podcast is part of Department of Energy’s Voices of Experience, an initiative that supports grid modernization by sharing insights, lessons learned and advice on operating in a rapidly evolving industry.

About the Host

Grid Talk is hosted by award winning, energy journalist Marty Rosenberg. For nearly 40 years, Marty has been covering business, energy, finance, and technology. He was the Editor-in-Chief for EnergyBiz from 2004 to 2014. EnergyBiz was an award-winning national publication covering energy and utilities. Marty has been published in multiple media outlets including the New York Times, Huffington Post and USA Today. Marty plugs into the industry knowledge base to deliver critical information about the opportunities and challenges facing utilities today. The result is engaging conversations about modernizing our electric grid.

For more episodes - https://www.smartgrid.gov/gridtalk/

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Bob Meinetz on Aug 15, 2021

Martin, in January Los Angeles Dept. of Water & Power (LADWP) submitted the Power Content Label shown below to indicate wht sources were used to generate its electricity in 2019:

As you can see, L.A. remains dependent on fossil fuel sources for nearly half of its electricity, and coal consumption has actually increased by 3% from the year before. So if it "aims to be a global trendsetter in renewables and sustainability with a goal of going 100% renewable by 2035", it has a lot of work to do.

Minus any credible plan to achieve that goal, it's safe to say L.A.'s pronouncement is 100% hype - that its promises will evaporate into thin air long before 2035 rolls around. What's more, any progress made thus far has relied on shell games - buying fake renewable "attributes" to help launder some of its dirty power, or considering energy stored in batteries to be clean - without even knowing the source of the energy that charged them.

For example: developer 8-Minute Energy's Eland I & 2 Energy Center consists of a massive battery facility the company claims is "paired" with an adjacent solar farm. But if we believe the batteries are storing 100% clean solar energy, we would be wrong. Located next to a solar farm for appearance purposes only, the batteries are charged from a grid mix - meaning, an average of half of any energy stored in batteries comes from fossil fuel sources.

That's a problem, because the process of charging and discharging batteries wastes electricity. Unless the wasted electricity is replaced by 100% clean electricity (it isn't), electricity coming out of the batteries will be anywhere from 20-50% dirtier than what went in (the wasted electricity needs to be "generated twice").

Los Angeles, and California in general, is playing fast and loose with its reponse to climate change when it can least afford to do so.

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