February 14, 2019 11:45 AM, EST

Los Angeles Nixes Plan to Upgrade Three Natural Gas Generators

LNGKen James/Bloomberg News

Los Angeles will ditch a plan to spend billions rebuilding three natural gas-fired power plants as the city moves toward getting all of its electricity from renewable energy.

The city will phase out the three units that together represent 38% of the city’s natural gas portfolio by 2029, according to a statement Feb. 12 by Mayor Eric Garcetti. The move reverses an earlier decision by the city’s utility to extend the life of the coastal gas generators and marks another step in California’s march toward weening itself from fossil fuels.

“This is the beginning of the end of natural gas in Los Angeles,” Garcetti said in the statement. “The climate crisis demands that we move more quickly to end dependence on fossil fuel, and that’s what today is all about.”

Natural gas generators are becoming an endangered species in California, which has set a goal of getting all of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2045. Last year, state regulators approved a plan for PG&E Corp. to deploy battery energy-storage systems that will replace three gas-fired units owned by Calpine Corp. Power producer NRG Energy Inc. pulled the plug last year on a plan to build a new gas facility on the Southern California coast after a state agency filed a recommendation against granting a permit.

Garcetti said Feb. 12 he wants Los Angeles to move toward getting all of its power from renewable sources and directed the city’s Department of Power & Water to study how to achieve it. The city had estimated the three units would require $5 billion in upgrades to meet new environmental rules regarding water use.