The nation?s largest municipal utility district is under heavy pressure to become more renewable-energy-friendly. But whether the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) will boost it green power or use more brown, coal-fired electricity may ultimately depend upon how much money its parent city will extract from it during increasingly hard economic times. LADWP generates 50 percent of its electricity from coal and that number could rise. It generates less than 3 percent of its power from green resources, compared to 11 percent statewide. In contrast, last year?s renewables portfolio standard law set a 20 percent requirement for investor-owned utilities by 2017 but exempted public power authorities from the renewables mandate at LADWP?s urging. The law requires power agencies only to develop portfolio goals for solar, wind, and other green power technologies, which falls short of what is needed, say local politicians and environmentalists. ?I am asking DWP to show me their [renewables] blueprint,? said Tony Cardenas, who chairs the city council?s commerce and energy committee. ?We need to quicken the pace.? Fellow council member Jack Weiss predicts more receptivity to renewable energy because of an emerging green coalition on the city council. Weiss added, however, that the city was ?using excess revenues from the DWP to balance its budget. If DWP wasn?t there, we?d be having a discussion about layoffs.? Los Angeles faces a budget shortfall of $50 million, which could increase to $200 million, depending on how the state?s financial crisis is handled. This year, the city increased its take from LADWP from 5 to 7 percent of revenues. LADWP transferred $213 million to the city in 2002-03. ?It could be a point at which the council members who want a green DWP could be conflicted,? said Martin Schlagater, energy director for the Coalition for Clean Air. ?It does provide a lot of money into the city?s coffers,? he added. Although it uses comparatively little renewable energy, LADWP has garnered headlines for its ?Green L.A.? program with numerous press conferences announcing solar projects, tree plantings, and fuel cell installations. The green public relations campaign has not fooled environmentalists, who have criticized the department?s heavy reliance on coal to fuel what the late rock singer Jim Morrison once called the ?City of Light.? Schlagater said the department?s green power program was a step forward. ?It did get up and running, but everybody recognizes they have to do more.? The department could achieve a 20 percent renewables standard without raising its rates, according to a report by Environment California and the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technology. Prodded by environmental groups, the Los Angeles City Council has taken up the issue. Meanwhile, governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger has pledged to raise the bar in the state?s shift to renewable power. He is also concerned about LADWP?s laggard pace. ?They?re the big 800-pound gorilla,? said Terry Tamminen, executive director of Environment Now in Santa Monica who played a key role in writing Schwarzenegger?s environmental platform. ?It?s not appropriate to export our pollution,? he added. Although pressure is building to increase renewable supplies, the department has its hands in a new coal-fired project. It is providing some project funding, which surprised council members Cardenas and Weiss and clean-air advocates fighting the plan. The Intermountain Power Authority, which currently operates two 950 MW coal-fired plants in Utah, plans to build a new $1.75 billion coal-fired project, which would help meet L.A.?s growing demand. It is expected to be one of the cleanest coal-fired plants in the nation. Utah?s environmental agency is expected to grant an air pollution control permit by early next year. LADWP sucks up 45 percent of the existing plants? total output. ?New coal plants foreclose the market for cleaner alternatives in the future,? warned Claudia Putnam, communications manager for Western Resources Advocates (WRA), a Boulder, Colorado?based organization that has joined with a coalition of environmental groups challenging the air permit application. The groups also are concerned that it will be impossible to outfit the new plant with carbon sequestration equipment they believe will be required to control global warming. This will make the investment risky, according to Eric Guidry, attorney for WRA, since carbon sequestration could be required before the plant?s costs are fully amortized. Yet unless the Capitol mandates that LADWP achieve a certain level of renewable energy in its generation portfolio, the prospect of selling cheap power from coal will remain an attractive option to Los Angeles. LADWP is seeking guidance from the city council and hopes to have a final renewables plan in place by next spring.