Metro relies on energy to operate our system – it powers our operational facilities, fuels our vehicles and runs our rail systems. The use and sourcing of that energy has ongoing impacts and longstanding implications for the environmental, fiscal and infrastructural resilience of our system. Metro's building energy consumption alone accounts for just over 100 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity consumption per year across our extensive inventory of facilities in LA County. These building operations are critical to support over 1.2 million weekday rail and bus transit patrons. As such, Metro is taking proactive measures to implement innovative energy conservation practices and technologies in buildings, while procuring and generating more clean, renewable sources of energy wherever possible.
Working Towards an Energy Resilient Future
Metro is a strategic partner in creating an energy resilient LA County through long-range planning, operational continuity and environmental stewardship initiatives. Metro is a lifeline to many in our region, so we recognize the critical importance of keeping the energy infrastructure that powers our bus and rail systems up and running. Metro identifies and deploys cost effective and energy efficient solutions to reduce greenhouse gas and criteria air pollutant emissions, while keeping Metro running even if the electrical grid goes down.
In 2020, Metro hosted a landmark, three-part Energy Resiliency Series with top regional sustainability and climate action leaders to better understand how their resilient energy system solutions could be applied to Metro’s long-range energy resilience strategies, as well as viable cutting-edge solutions from industry experts. The series featured roundtable discussions and panels of academics, government officials and industry professionals from the California Energy Commission, the City of LA, LA County, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP), Southern California Gas, the University of California Los Angeles and more.
The series provided valuable input to support Metro and our partners in establishing an actionable roadmap for our resilient energy systems. These events highlighted the many co-benefits to pursuing energy resilience for Metro with the region, ranging from climate protection to emergency preparedness, focusing on mission-critical loads in strategic locations across our service territory.
The Energy Resiliency Series reinforced the importance of transparency, knowledge sharing and proactive collaboration as key to a more resilient LA County. We look forward to continuing work with our partners across the region to provide reliable transportation services to those who need it – especially when they need it most.
Microgrid Feasibility - Metro’s Path Toward Distributed Energy
Metro’s long-term energy resource strategy is focused on mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reducing reliance on the electrical grid and diversifying sources of energy.
Distributed Energy Resources (DER) are decentralized energy sources that incorporate renewable energy and storage technologies, such as solar photovoltaics (PV) and batteries, to generate and store electricity. Installing DERs ensures that Metro is using clean renewable energy to power its system, but is also a key strategy in ensuring that we can operate during times of high electricity demand or grid outages, all while yielding cost savings for Metro. This strategy has already realized substantial benefits for Metro; since 2005, Metro has installed over 2.6 MW of on-site solar PV arrays at seven locations, collectively generating 1,685,108 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of clean electricity in 2020.
To achieve our ambitious 2030 energy conservation and renewable energy generation goals, Metro is working to deploy additional DERs across our system, with particular attention to microgrid technology. Microgrids are interconnected systems of DERs that can operate in parallel with, or independently of, the grid to power critical systems.
In 2019, Metro completed a Phase I Microgrid Feasibility Study evaluating current infrastructure and the viability of a microgrid solution. The assessment considered several models and associated costs – a proof-of-concept to identify constraints and opportunities – using the Metro L (Gold) Line for analysis. Metro is now entering Phase II of this study, to further identify opportunities for deployment of microgrids.
Metro is also leveraging partnerships to explore additional DER solutions. During 2019 and 2020, Metro developed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to install 1.06 MW of PV arrays at Divisions 11, 14 and 22, projected to offset over two million kWh of procured utility electricity annually starting in 2023. Additionally, Metro is supporting a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) for DER technology deployment across its service territory. These efforts will support Metro in achieving its vision for a future powered by local, clean and distributed energy resources.
Reducing Energy Use and Cost Through Energy Efficient Technologies
Despite system growth and increasing demand, Metro is committed to reducing systemwide energy use. We will reduce our facility electricity consumption by 17% from the 2030 business-as-usual scenario by implementing energy efficient technologies.
The collective results of the following efforts will form a new 10-year strategy and capital expenditure plan to install high-efficiency energy systems across the agency by 2030:
- During 2019 - 2020, Metro conducted a series of assessments to identify Metro’s next generation energy efficiency projects.
- Since 2020, Metro performed a comprehensive Building Management System (BMS) assessment to identify system performance and efficiency improvements at each operating division, developing consistent standards, specifications, guidelines and practices.
- Metro performed a systemwide audit of all facilities to identify opportunities for upgrades or new installations of energy efficient equipment, such as lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
- Metro is developing commissioning policies and guidelines to standardize our project commissioning requirements, providing a best practices level of commissioning authority and oversight to improve system efficiency and performance.
These assessments and audits are critical steps toward identifying and scoping specific projects, but our energy efficiency efforts are not limited to evaluations alone. Following the four parking structure lighting retrofits completed in 2018, Metro has been scoping an LED Lighting Program for the parking garage at Union Station Gateway to replace existing fixtures with new LED lamps by 2023. Upon completion, this project is estimated to reduce energy consumption by 866,000 kWh annually.
Together, these efforts will lead to tangible energy efficiency outcomes reflecting our commitment to responsible stewardship of energy resources – even as our system expands.
Understanding This Target
This target measures Metro’s use of electricity in our buildings, maintenance facilities, and other structures to provide power, heating and cooling and other building functions. Metro’s total energy consumption is expected to increase as a result of aggressive expansion of the rail system and our commitment to increasing our electrified bus assets. Despite this growth and increasing demand, we are dedicated to reducing our energy consumption. We have identified multiple opportunities to achieve a 17% reduction in facility electricity consumption compared to the 2030 Business as Usual scenario. These include implementing already identified energy projects, instituting an enterprise-level BMS and adopting a formal facility commissioning and retro-commissioning policy.
In 2020, facility electricity consumption declined by 10% from 2019. A majority of this decline is assumed to be due to reduced operations and service resulting from the pandemic, as many of our operating divisions and transit stations experienced generally consistent decreases in electricity usage. As Metro returns to standard operation, we naturally expect some increase in consumption at our facilities in the coming years. However, we do expect a handful of energy efficiency projects to come online in that time period that will yield substantive savings with respect to electricity and cost, including the LED Lighting Program for the parking garage at Union Station. Our total consumption of facility electricity in 2020 was nearly 9.3 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) lower than our 2020 goal, meaning that Metro is well on its way to achieving its 17% BAU reduction target by 2030.
Understanding This Target
This target measures Metro’s capacity to generate clean, renewable energy through onsite energy generation assets. Onsite renewable energy, such as solar photovoltaic (PV) technology, is a critical strategy contributing to both our climate and energy resiliency goals. As of 2020, Metro owned and operated 2.6 megawatts (MW) of solar PV across eight facilities. However, we are working aggressively to increase renewable energy generation capacity through installations at multiple operating divisions, the newly constructed Location 64 and the Airport Metro Connector by 2023. Together, these projects will help us achieve our 2030 goal of 7.5 MW of renewable energy generation – tripling 2020 generation levels. As a new target, Metro’s renewable energy generation will be measured against this 2020 baseline.
Onsite renewable energy capacity went unchanged in 2019 or 2020, and remains at 2.6 MW. However, we expect this number to increase by 2023, at which point multiple new solar PV installations are expected to be installed and come online. This includes an estimated 1.06 MW of PV arrays at Divisions 11, 14, and 22 per a Power Purchase Agreement developed by Metro over the past two years. We are assessing and continuing to identify additional opportunities for rooftop solar and other on-site renewable energy installations to increase onsite capacity within the next five years.