LA Metro’s Ad Hoc Sustainability Committee unanimously approved a renewable energy policy Wednesday that would increase Metro’s commitment to using renewable sources of energy for the construction and operation of Metro facilities, including existing and new transit lines. LA Metro spends an average of $26 million annually and will need to buy more energy to construct and operate the expanded transit system funded by the Measure R sales tax. Because energy costs are expected to rise, the agency is eager to ensure it has alternative energy options.
California law already requires that 33 percent of all the power that electrical utilities supply be from renewable sources by 2020, which means that 33 percent of LA Metro’s energy will also be from renewable sources. Currently, 18 percent of the energy that the utilities supply to Metro comes from renewable sources, and another 2 percent comes from solar panels Metro has installed on its facilities. Staff will come back to the committee in 18 months and recommend a renewable energy use goal for the year 2020.
The energy policy will make it official that the agency will as a matter of course consider the use of renewable energy sources in all of its projects going forward. For example, Metro will install more solar panels on stations, in maintenance facilities and along rights of way, consider installing wind turbines in the subway tunnels, the purchase of electric vehicles, and other emerging technologies. The policy will be revisited in 5 years.
A study for the Ad Hoc Sustainability Committee stated that: “We believe that in the volatile and costly energy market, embracing sustainability, energy efficiency, conservation, and implementation of renewable energy sources is a primary pathway towards gaining control of, and reducing our energy usage and costs and gaining energy independence.”
Because renewable energy project development and deployment requires higher up-front capital investment than conventional sources, Metro will also be seeking to use creative financing mechanisms including public-private partnerships.
The energy policy is supported by environmental and transportation advocates including the Coalition for Clean Air, the Sierra Club, Breathe LA, FAST (Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic), Environment California, Greenpeace, Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies. The policy was developed in response to a motion by LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Santa Monica Councilmember and Ad Hoc Sustainability Committee Chair Pam O’Connor.