LA council suspicious about Scattergood green hydrogen plan

In its review of a hotly contested proposal to switch the Scattergood Generating Station, a power plant in Playa del Rey, to be powered by green hydrogen instead of natural gas, the City Council’s Energy and Environment Committee expressed caution and added a number of specific recommendations.

Over the protests of several environmental groups concerned about the impact of green hydrogen on the climate and the lack of openness from officials, the council had voted in December to authorize a competitive bid proposal process for the estimated $800 million scheme. However, it did not receive enough support to avoid a second vote for the decision. The second consideration was supposed to be taken before the Christmas break, but it was postponed twice because new council members joined in between the first and second readings. On Wednesday, the council will discuss it.

While waiting for additional information, the Energy and Environment Committee questioned representatives of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power about viable substitutes and the hazards of employing green hydrogen to the public’s health. Representative of the district where the factory is located, Councilwoman Traci Park, convened the meeting and also provided a letter highlighting many issues.

In the letter, Park said that it is “critical that potentially impacted neighborhoods and stakeholders are appropriately informed about DWP’s plans, yet it appears that relatively few are aware of the intended conversion of Scattergood to a green hydrogen plant at this time.”

In the first reading, the council no longer has the two members who voted for the item and the two who voted against it.

On Friday, the energy committee amended a different project-related item scheduled to be discussed by the council the same day it took up the second vote. The committee demanded that LADWP give the council updates on the project on a regular basis. It also attempted to

  • Verify that the project won’t raise pollutant emissions or pose a threat to the public’s health or safety due to the production, storage, or use of green hydrogen;
  • Include the prevention, mitigation, and monitoring of hydrogen leaks;
  • Utilize only hydrogen made using green energy sources;

As part of other recommendations, LADWP was told to reach out to neighborhood councils and community-based organizations and to explore non-combustion alternatives to green hydrogen.

The proposal, according to Council President Paul Krekorian in December, is essential for Los Angeles to reach its objective of using only sustainable energy by 2035.

Krekorian said that without a sizable generating resource at Scattergood, the city will experience problems with energy reliability and that the council was only voting on the procurement procedure.

According to Krekorian, “this is merely the first step on the beginning of a potential journey toward green hydrogen at Scattergood,” The council will be involved in answering queries before complete approval.

Environmental organizations, though, have resisted. Using hydrogen would cost more than using solar, wind, or battery storage, emit emissions that could endanger the climate, and use more than 122 million gallons of water to power the facility.

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