Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday that Los Angeles could reap thousands of jobs from its commitment to cutting energy consumption by 15% across the city.
If L.A. meets that goal -- which Garcetti and Department of Water and Power officials declared the most ambitious goal set by a major municipal utility nationwide -- it would have the same effect on carbon emissions as pulling 440,000 cars off L.A. streets annually, officials said Monday.
The DWP board voted for the steeper goal in August, exceeding the demands of a state law that seeks a 10% reduction in energy consumption over a decade. The stricter goal commits L.A. to reducing energy demand by 15% between 2012 and 2020.
At the time, department officials said that goal could eventually prod the city to raise rates by an estimated 1.3% annually.
However, at a press event at the Bloc, a downtown renovation project praised for saving energy, Garcetti and others argued that the alternative was much more costly and that the net result would save money for customers.
If Angelenos conserve, he added, "we can actually bring your bill down even as rates go up."
Besides lower bills, Garcetti also touted a new UCLA study that found that for every $1 million invested in energy efficiency programs, Los Angeles will get 16 jobs for a year -- much more than it would if it devoted the same dollars to natural gas production.
To get Los Angeles to its goal, Garcetti promoted city programs that offer rebates for Angelenos who buy energy efficient appliances, as well as free installation of low-flow toilets and other energy-saving improvements for small businesses.
City Councilman Jose Huizar said that half of the electricity demand in Los Angeles comes from only 4% of its buildings, which could be targeted to get "big results." Huizar was among several council members, including Paul Koretz and Bob Blumenfield, who recently proposed that the city create a program aimed at making such heavy consumers more efficient.
"Energy efficiency is a win-win situation for anyone," Huizar said. "Customers save money. The department doesn't have to build as many power plants. And we keep pollution out of our environment."