California is aiming for 100% clean energy. But Los Angeles might invest billions in fossil fuels

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is leaning toward spending billions of dollars to rebuild three aging gas-fired power plants, even as California aims to eliminate fossil fuels, a goal endorsed by Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Consultants hired by the utility say the city should invest those ratepayer dollars in continuing to burn natural gas at the Scattergood, Harbor and Haynes power plants along the coast. The utility’s staff agrees, saying that batteries charged with solar or wind power aren’t yet cheap or reliable enough to replace the gas plants, which are critical to keeping the lights on.

Environmental activists had cheered last year when the DWP said it would temporarily halt plans to rebuild the plants. Now they’re dismissing the consultants’ study because it doesn’t consider the possibility that battery costs, already far lower than they were a decade ago, will continue to fall.

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