The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the city utility’s long-range plans to eliminate coal-fired generation from the power mix in favor of more natural gas and renewables.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) earlier this month outlined an ambitious, decade-long plan to abandon its historic reliance on out-of-state coal-fired power generation for more than 40% of its electricity supplies (see Daily GPI, April 19).

The LADWP’s utility ratepayer advocate warned elected officials that an earlier-than-expected exit from coal might result in up to $650 million of increased retail rates over the next 10 to 15 years, unless remedial measures are undertaken. Ratepayer advocate Fred Pickel, however, has advocated more emphasis on large-scale wind and solar projects.

LADWP General Manager Ron Nichols said the transition was in its early stages, and he thinks the utility has until 2020 to determine the exact combination of renewables and gas-fired generation to pursue. He plans to provide projected costs “well before we have to pull the trigger,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

The plan includes converting units at the coal-fired Intermountain Power Project (IPP) in Utah to gas by 2025. Under California’s climate change laws, no utility may sign new contracts for coal-fired generation, so the LADWP contract with IPP would be terminated by 2027.

“There is no cost-free option,” City Councilman Jose Huizar said, the Times reported.

A key element began earlier this year when the Salt River Project (SRP) in Phoenix agreed to negotiate an end LADWP’s 21% stake in the 2,250 MW coal-fired Navajo Generating Station by the end of 2015.

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