Glendale could reduce coal-generated power

Glendale Water & Power commissioners are recommending that Glendale's utility wean itself off coal before 2027, with one calling it a "politically important" symbol.

If the City Council ultimately decides to go along with the recommendation and make the timetable official, the move would come on the heels of Los Angeles vowing to do the same by 2025.

Glendale Water & Power officials have been working on reducing the city's reliance on coal-generated power, but this is the first step toward putting the rollback on an official timeline.

"It's time to actually place these goals and timetables into our written plan," said Commissioner Deborah Dentler, who first suggested the city stop doing business with power plants that use coal.

"I think it's very important that we send this message," Dentler continued, calling it a "politically important" symbol.

Cutting back on coal because of its environmental impacts has long been a political issue for local, state and national lawmakers.

The Glendale Water & Power Commission also advised the City Council to ban any new contracts with coal-fired plants, which, due to a state law, would have to occur anyway if the plants don't change how they produce energy. Glendale Water & Power's contracts with two coal-fired plants in New Mexico and Utah, which generate about 30% of the power used in the city, expire in 2017 and 2027, respectively.

Aura Vasquez, organizing representative for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, said while Glendale Water & Power's decision may not have the dramatics of the mayor of Los Angeles' promise to get off coal in 12 years, it's still an honorable goal.

"What you're doing is setting up the plan for what's going to be the future of electricity use in Glendale," Vasquez said.

Commissioner Hugh Yao had argued that Glendale shouldn't rule out coal outright in case research into clean-coal technology is successful, but his suggestion was quickly turned down.

Glendale Water & Power General Manager Steve Zurn said the costs of getting off coal will depend on what the utility replaces it with. Natural gas, for example, is cheaper than wind-generated power.


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