Regional Economic Impacts of the Los Angeles 100% Renewable Energy Transition

Harvey Cutler, Martin Shields, Adam Rose, Dan Wei, David Keyser, Kevin Crofton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To help mitigate greenhouse gas (GHGs) generation from burning fossil fuels, many state and local governments are requiring utilities to dramatically increase the share of electricity generated from renewable sources. The City of Los Angeles has set a target of 100% renewable energy by 2045 and has formulated a plan that considers nine potential alternative scenarios that differ by technology, location, and timing. Each scenario has a unique set of local investments, operating and maintenance (O&M) costs, and concomitant rate structures. In this study we develop and apply a computable general equilibrium (CGE) model built specifically for LA to estimate and compare the economic impacts for each of the scenarios over time relative to a reference case. We find differences in economic impacts across scenarios, depending on the level and timing of investment and O&M expenditures, as well as differences in the relative rate changes across scenarios. Results show that employment and economic output are positively correlated with greater capital and O&M spending, while higher electricity rates can dampen economic activity. Several scenarios generate positive economic impacts relative to the reference case, showing that the transition need not have harmful economic impacts, and all scenarios generate a number of other positive co-benefits, such as reduced damage to health from the reduction of ordinary air pollutants. The net employment impacts from 2026 to 2045 across the scenarios range from a low of 3,600 job-year losses annually to 4,700 job-year gains, both around only 0.1% of the baseline average annual employment in the city over that period. The analysis also indicates that lower-income households are relatively more affected than others by the scenarios. Overall, even in the most negatively impactful case, the economic output and employment effects are quite small when taken in the context of the overall size of the regional economy and the large reduction in GHGs.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)660-675
Number of pages16
JournalClimate Policy
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-85241


  • economic impact modeling
  • energy transition policy
  • income distribution impacts
  • renewable energy


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