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Riverside currently receives over 20% of its electricity from coal. Now it’s aiming for zero.

By 2025, the city is looking to become fully powered by renewable energy and natural gases.

Side view of solar panels in Riverside
The City of Riverside is aiming to ditch coal power plants in an effort to use renewable energy as its main power source by 2025.

Where do power and electricity sources for the City of Riverside really come from? It’s a question that has been easily overlooked.

According to Riverside Public Utility (RPU), it reported that in 2020 42.2% of the city’s electricity came from renewable resources. However, what many don’t recognize is that 24.7%, almost a quarter, of that overall power was sourced from coal, specifically from the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) coal power plant in Utah.

Riverside has plans to change that.

RPU Power Resources Manager Scott Lesch said the city has received power from the LADWP coal plant since the 1980s. However, the plant will soon transition away from coal in 2025, he said, and move toward using a natural gas-fired power plant. Riverside currently has a contract with the plant until 2027, but Lesch did not explicitly say if RPU would or would not renew.

When discussing clean energy, Lesch did say that Riverside is pushing toward its goal and has aims to use cleaner sources.

“We’ve been very aggressively going out and sourcing new renewable contracts, we have a utility-scale solar facility (solar panels) in our resource mix, we have wind resources, and we have a lot of geothermal resources,” Lesch said.

“[Riverside City Council] also identified if we can achieve that, then 100% of our electricity that we provide to our customers be greenhouse gas-free,” said Tracy Sato, another power resources manager with RPU.

Sato said the city’s clean energy goals are regulated under Riverside’s 2025 Envision Strategic Plan, which was first adopted by the City Council in October 2020.

Part of the plan’s goals include further utilization of “renewables or other resources that don’t emit greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, which is earlier than [California’s Clean Energy Act] mandate right now, which is 2045,” Sato added.

The strategic plan currently contains five pages of material on the many ways Riverside plans to better safeguard the natural environment. As it pertains to electricity, the city has several objectives which include looking to identify best practices to address energy affordability and learning how to maximize the development of biogas to energy products.