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LA Council’s energy committee probes Scattergood ‘green hydrogen’ plan

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The Los Angeles City Council’s Energy and Environment Committee expressed caution and added several specific recommendations on Friday, Feb. 3, in its consideration of a much-debated plan to shift the Scattergood Generating Station, a power plant in Playa del Rey, to using green hydrogen instead of natural gas.

The council had voted in December to authorize a competitive bid proposal process for the estimated $800 million plan, over the objections of some environmental groups concerned about the impact of green hydrogen on the climate and lack of transparency from officials. But it did not garner enough votes to skip a second vote for final approval.

The second consideration was initially scheduled prior to the winter recess, but the item was delayed twice with new council members joining in between the two readings. It is set to come before the council next Wednesday.

In the meantime, the energy and environment committee sought more context to the use of green hydrogen at the plant, asking Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials about potential alternatives, and the public health risks of using green hydrogen.

Councilmember Traci Park, who represents the district where Scattergood is located, called into the meeting and also submitted a letter outlining several concerns. She wrote that it is “imperative that potentially impacted neighborhoods and stakeholders are adequately informed about DWP’s plans, but it appears presently that very few are aware of the proposed conversion of Scattergood to a green hydrogen plant.”

Two of the members who voted in favor and two who voted against the item on the first reading are no longer on the city council.

The energy committee on Friday added recommendations to a separate item related to the project, also set to come before the council on the same day it takes up the second vote. The committee called for regular reports from LADWP to the council on the project. It also sought to:

— Make sure that the project would not result in an increase of pollutant emissions or create public health or safety risks from the production, storage, transportation or use of green hydrogen;

— Incorporate hydrogen leak prevention, mitigation and monitoring;

— Only use hydrogen produced from renewable energy resources;

Other recommendations included seeking an assessment of non-combustion alternatives to green hydrogen, and directing LADWP to conduct outreach with neighborhood councils and community-based organizations.

In December, Council President Paul Krekorian called the plan necessary for Los Angeles to meet its goal of achieving 100% clean energy by 2035.

Without a significant generating resource at Scattergood, the city would see energy reliability issues, according to Krekorian, who added that the council was voting on just the procurement process.

“This is barely the first step on the beginning of a potential journey toward green hydrogen at Scattergood,” Krekorian said, adding that the council will be engaged in answering questions ahead of full approval.

But environmental groups have pushed back.

According to Food & Water Watch, hydrogen still produces emissions that can threaten the climate, would require more than 122 million gallons of water to power the plant, and cost more than solar, wind or battery storage.

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