Glendale City Council Recap
August 16, 2022—6pm
Clean Energy Resolution Passes; Council Votes 4–1 to Take Next Steps on Grayson Repowering with 3 Engines
Big things happened at City Council on August 16. Council unanimously approved a resolution to adopt a goal of 100% clean energy by 2035, and to greatly accelerate solar and battery storage adoption among Glendale Water and Power customers. Immediately following that vote, City Council approved GWP’s plan to move forward with preparations for the Grayson Power Plant Repowering, including designing the gas-engine component based on 3 engines instead of 5—heading in the right direction, but we will keep pushing for less.
Clean Energy Resolution Passed
The resolution is related to a proposal developed by GEC, described at our Glendale Solar Solution webpage. We shared this proposal with City Council members including Mayor Ardy Kassakhian. The core of the proposal is to increase GWP customer solar installations—currently at only 2.5% of customers—to a level that will exceed the state average (closer to 10%).
After we advocated for this proposal, Mayor Kassakhian introduced the resolution on July 16. It calls for Glendale to do the following:
- Achieve 100% clean, renewable, non-carbon-emitting energy by 2035.
- Establish policies to reach a goal of at least 10% of GWP customers adopting solar and storage systems by 2027, and combine that with other demand management to reach 100 MW of energy capacity.
- Hire consultants to develop a plan to meet these goals, calculate the resulting capacity and demand reduction, and analyze the benefits and costs of the plan.
An attachment to the resolution provides some guidance for elements to be included in the plan. Notably, these include policies specifically aimed to encourage lower-income customers, customers in heavily pollution-burdened areas of the city, and multifamily and rental residents to adopt solar and storage.
When the resolution came up for City Council consideration on August 16, Council members generally supported the goals and approach, and voted unanimously for passage. Councilmember Elen Asatryan further strengthened the commitment to equity in the final version by adding an analysis of impacts on low- and moderate-income households and options to mitigate any negative impacts.
While GEC overall supports the resolution as passed, some changes from the version as introduced are concerning. In the resolution as introduced, energy from the Scholl Canyon landfill biogas power plant would not have counted toward the 2035 100% clean energy goal. The final language in the resolution describes clean energy resources Glendale will use as “clean, renewable, or non-carbon-emitting resources excluding biofuels not already approved or permitted.” GEC does not support the inclusion of the highly polluting landfill gas.
We are also concerned about removal of a provision to help ensure the resolution’s goals are achieved. The original resolution included a subcommittee of City Council members to ensure continuing progress and achievement of the goals. City Council removed that and replaced it with a requirement that staff will provide monthly reports to City Council.
Having City Council pass this resolution is an extremely positive step for Glendale. But it is only the first step toward making this vision a reality. It will be up to the Mayor and City Council to make sure goals are being achieved at the pace needed to meet the resolution’s goals of at least 10% of customers with solar and storage by 2027 and Glendale using 100% clean energy by 2035. We will keep advocating for these important goals.
Reduced Grayson Gas Plant Moves Forward
The Grayson Repowering was next on the agenda, with GWP presenting several motions and resolutions to move forward on aspects of the project. Most of these were procedural. But staff also asked City Council to pass a motion to approve purchasing and installing the 5 gas-burning Wartsila engines. Staff’s reasons for bringing the project back in August instead of toward the end of the year were that supply chain and inflation issues have caused construction costs to increase, and there is an approaching regulatory deadline in January 2024 to stop running the existing gas-burning units. Council did not take up GWP’s proposed motion to approve the purchase and installation of the Wartsila engines at this time.
GEC continues to advocate for Glendale to investigate clean energy alternatives and to reduce or eliminate the need for new gas-burning equipment. We hoped that clean energy projects would be presented very soon in response to the Request for Proposals (RFP) that GWP issued at City Council direction on March 1. But a delay in the RFP’s release and barriers in its design may mean fewer proposals submitted than we would hope.
The most significant decision on Grayson during the meeting came after Councilmember Dan Brotman proposed decreasing the number of Wartsila engines for which engineering and design work would be done. Rather than assuming 5 gas engines, Brotman proposed work proceed for 3 engines. Council approved that proposal by a 4–1 vote.
If a 3-engine plan goes forward, that would mean about 56 MW of gas power at Grayson. This is a substantial reduction from the original 262 MW proposal in 2017, and even a further reduction from the 93 MW 5-engine project that City Council approved this past February and then put on pause in March.
These continuing reductions in the size of the Grayson gas-power project are largely thanks to past and present GEC and community opposition to fossil fuel generation. We should all cheer our substantial progress over the last several years!
Councilmember Asatryan provided the only no vote for moving forward with engineering and design work for 3 engines. She questioned why Glendale should plan on purchasing 3 engines with little data to support that number. She pressed for continuing the delay put in place in March to assess what new projects might come from the city’s distributed energy resources RFP, the newly passed resolution, and the Biden Administration’s just-signed Inflation Reduction Act, which includes $369 billion for GHG reductions, energy transition projects and technologies, grid modernization, and electrification, with grants and subsidies to address the climate emergency.
The next decision point is likely to be in October, after responses to the July 2022 clean energy RFP have come in and had initial review. The current 3-engine size isn’t final—GWP could still propose increasing the project to 5 engines, and we would prefer to see it reduced below 3.
We’ll continue to advocate for clean energy and avoiding fossil-fuel-based energy to the greatest extent possible. We need to keep pressing in this direction to avoid Glendale slipping back toward a higher number of engines—which two Council members currently appear to favor. Our work is not over yet!
Agenda / Links to Reports: https://glendaleca.primegov.com/Portal/Meeting?meetingTemplateId=33248
View the Council Meeting:
(Clean Energy Resolution item begins at 1:17; Grayson Repowering item begins at 3:00)