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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: A union is blocking cheap, clean energy for L.A. That’s a shame

Solar energy
Under a 25-year contract, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power would pay less than 2 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity from the Eland solar farm.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: As a lifelong supporter of employee rights and a 30-year union member, I was greatly disappointed by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18’s decision to oppose the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Eland solar project that, for 25 years, would lock in a price of less than 2 cents per kilowatt hour for clean electricity and an additional 1.3 cents per kWh for battery storage.

This is a record low price that gas-fired plants can’t compete with. Plus, we can’t predict gas costs in 2045, the last year California law allows natural gas to be used for electricity generation.

A recent Gallup poll found that 64% of Americans approve of unions, one of the highest levels of support since 1970. As a union supporter, I am saddened that the IBEW is jeopardizing such goodwill by being on the wrong side of history.

Tom Hazelleaf, Seal Beach

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To the editor: The DWP’s Intermountain Power Plant conversion from coal to natural gas should be celebrated as an achievement in carbon reduction goals.

In 2006, this 1,640-megawatt coal plant emitted 16 million tons of carbon dioxide. The proposed 840-megawatt natural gas replacement could result in an estimated 80% reduction in hourly carbon dioxide emissions. This flexible gas-fired power plant will likely run fewer hours than the coal-fired facility it will replace, further reducing emissions.

Electric grids need generating resources that can quickly react to changes in load and loss of energy resources (like wind or solar). While a 100% renewable electric system is a worthy goal, we will likely need agile natural gas power plants to maintain California’s grid resiliency when renewable energy is not available.

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Flexible natural gas power plants are basically a grid insurance policy, running fewer hours each year as California approaches its renewable energy objectives.

Bob Hoffman, Redondo Beach

The writer is an energy consultant.


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