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How a Policy Can Help Create a Zero-Carbon Future

Photo: Courtesy of The Office of The Mayor

Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, has created initiatives that support renewable energy, electric vehicles, and other sustainable practices. He offered his advice on how and why other cities should do the same.

What have you done to help homeowners and businesses in Los Angeles decrease their carbon footprint?

Since 2013, we’ve invested nearly $531 million in energy-saving programs and rebates to make it easier for homeowners to reduce their carbon footprint and cut their utility bills. Together, these investments — along with innovations like attic insulation, smart thermostats, and cool roofs — have conserved enough energy to power 340,000 homes for a year, which is equivalent to removing 170,000 gasoline-fueled cars from our roads.

We also offer a suite of options to help Angelenos replace old, energy-intensive appliances like refrigerators, clothes washers, and light bulbs at a lower price. Homeowners looking to go the extra mile can install solar panels on their roof, plant a tree on their property, or install an electric vehicle charger. 

We’ve also given our business owners the tools to go green because sustainability is good for our environment and their bottom lines. Through our Existing Building Energy and Water Efficiency Ordinance, we’ve helped property owners transition to more energy-efficient practices, which is why Los Angeles has been named the No. 1 Energy Star City in America by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for seven straight years.

Through our Green Business Certification Program, we’ve offered free environmental consulting to more than 800 businesses citywide to help them minimize consumption and maximize savings.  

Which technologies would you say are crucial for the renewable energy evolution to continue?

Our main focus is twofold: protecting our environment while making economy work for everyone. To meet our goals, Los Angeles is making investments now that will pay off in the future with cleaner air, less reliance on fossil fuels, greater prosperity for our workforce, and a carbon-neutral future for our communities.

We have already committed to nearly $1 billion in renewable technologies over the next five years, such as solar, wind, and hydroelectricity, and we are working to expand our capacity to store clean energy. 

Right now, we’re negotiating to bring the largest solar and battery storage project in the world to Southern California, which will store enough energy to serve up to 250,800 homes. Moving forward, we’ll continue to help drive innovation by investing in promising renewable energy sources ranging from compressed air energy storage to virtual power plants that help efficiently distribute clean energy to consumers through a localized power grid.  

Can you quickly discuss and debunk one or two myths surrounding the renewable energy industry for our readers?

Many people falsely believe clean energy will mean higher energy bills. That’s just not true. In fact, the price of renewables has steadily decreased over the last decade and is trending toward becoming the cheapest option available.

What’s more, where oil and natural gas prices have always been volatile, solar and wind will always cost us nothing to produce. And as energy storage and microgrids increasingly become the norm, clean power sources will become even more reliable, affordable, and cost-effective. 

Why is it important for cities to move to more zero-emissions vehicles? Are there any barriers to adoption you’d like to discuss?

Electric vehicles (EVs) don’t just help cities steer away from dirty fossil fuels — they make cities healthier, more livable places for our families. 

More EVs fill the streets of Los Angeles than any other city in America, and that has helped us improve our air quality and reduce noise pollution, but we know that growth can’t be limited only to folks who can afford a brand new EV. We have to make sure this transition reaches every Angeleno, regardless of zip code.

So we created Blue L.A., the first EV car share service designed for communities with the fewest EVs. We’ve also offered robust incentive programs, including a $450 rebate for used EVs and up to a $500 reimbursement for chargers.

With these changes and more, we want to ensure the communities on the front lines of the climate crisis are the first in line to reap the benefits of a more sustainable future.

Staff, [email protected]

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