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Going Green: Los Angeles To Go Coal-Free; Washington D.C. Rides The Wind
March 25, 2013
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With all of its highways, traffic jams, and reputation for smog, Los Angeles isn't usually thought to be the vanguard of green technology.

But that could be changing. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has announced a plan for Los Angeles be coal-free by the year 2025.

Currently, L.A. gets nearly 40% of its power from two coal plants in Utah and Arizona. The contract with Arizona ends in 2015 and the Utah plant will be converted to natural gas by 2015.

According to the mayor, "Los Angeles will finally kick its coal addiction. This is just one more way we're transforming Los Angeles from the capital of smog to the capital of sustainability."

One of the sustainable components includes solar power.

Last fall, the LA Department of Water and Power announced plans for two projects totalling 460 megawatts of solar power.

Combined with another solar power project, they will serve approximately 283,000 households.

According to Ronald O. Nichols of the L.A. Dept. of Water & Power, the change over from coal, is "the most dramatic move of any city in the United States".

Of course, it won't be easy. As the Sierra Club's Evan Gillespie said it's a "monumental task" to take "half of your power and replace it with clean energy over such a short time period."

Right now, coal plants that provide power to Los Angeles emit as much pollution as six million cars.

With that reality facing the city, the political tide seems to be turning.

In fact, Eric Garcetti, who's running for mayor to replace Villaraigosa, is making solar a focal point of his campaign, saying he'll bring 1.2 gigawatts of rooftop solar to the city.

Solar Power Plant in LA.jpg

Meantime in Washington, D.C., things seem to be changing as well.

All government agencies in Washington will soon be powered 100% by renewable energy.

The U.S. government already gets half its electricity from wind power. But as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency points out, that's only 11% of the city's total consumption.

So, there's lots of room to improve. The government agencies will get their power from a wind farm in Northern Virginia, although for now, the deal is only for a year.

In a press release, officials who oversee the farm say the new deal is equivalent to "taking 61,000 cars off the road for a year."

The move is part of Washington's 'Sustainable D.C. Plan', which is aimed at increasing green energy use and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

As Inhabitat.com reports, Washington has "established ambitious goals to increase use of renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

"Already, Washington, D.C. is one of the largest metropolitan areas for green economy jobs and is home to more than 200 LEED- and Energy Star-certified "green" buildings."

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