phasing out fossil fuel infrastructures in the city of los angeles: challenges for a just transition

Research Project | 2021

Phasing out fossil fuel infrastructure in Los Angeles: Challenges for a Just Transition

In this project, Dr. Kelly Kay and Andrea Furnaro focus on the phase-out of longstanding fossil fuel infrastructure as part of the Los Angeles Green New Deal plan.

While other studies are focused on ramping up capacity or ensuring the suitability of the grid, there has been much less scholarly attention to the infrastructures that are left behind in green transitions, and the way that infrastructure phase out impacts communities. Focusing on the decision to reduce reliance on or decommission natural gas fired power plants in Wilmington, El Segundo, Long Beach, and Sun Valley, we set out to understand the social dimensions of the phase out of these facilities. The project draws on over 20 semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders, as well as a review and discourse analysis of over 300 articles from the Los Angeles Times dating back to 1980, materials from 23 meetings of the LADWP Renewable Energy Advisory Group, the LA100 study, and a variety of other secondary materials.

Context

As an update and extension to the city’s Sustainable pLAn, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the Los Angeles Green New Deal (LAGND) in 2019. The LAGND seeks to achieve, among other goals, a zero-carbon electricity grid by 2045 and carbon-free sources of energy by 2050. To meet these goals, the city will phase-out coal from its power mix by 2025 and natural gas by 2045. This commitment requires a transformation of the power system, which is owned and managed by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). LADWP is the largest municipal utility in the United States, which serves 3.1 million residential customers of Los Angeles. Transforming the power system will have myriad social and ecological outcomes, including phasing out facilities both within Los Angeles and throughout the West, a process that will impact neighboring communities, ratepayers, and union and non-union workers, raising a range of questions about how to ensure a socially and environmentally just transition.

Co-principal investigators

Andrea Furnaro, PhD Candidate, Department of Geography, UCLA

Kelly Kay, Assistant Project, Department of Geography; Affiliate Faculty, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability