LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — City officials Monday announced a new plan that would put Los Angeles on track to become 15 percent more energy efficient by 2020.

Mayor Eric Garcetti was joined by city lawmakers at The Bloc downtown to unveil the ambitious Department of Water and Power conservation effort, which would mark the most aggressive energy efficiency program for any utility in California.

According to the mayor’s office, the 15 percent reduction in energy use would equal the benefits of removing 440,000 cars from L.A.’s streets each year, while also creating 16 jobs for every $1 million invested in the effort.

KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports part of the plan includes free services for small businesses with between roughly 10 to 15 employees.

“Just as water conservation is how we will get through our drought and control our water costs, energy conservation is how we will address climate change and keep our power bills low,” Garcetti said. “The cheapest and cleanest way to ensure we have enough electricity to keep the lights on and power our economy is through energy efficiency.”

The new goal, adopted by Garcetti’s appointees to the Board of Water and Power in August 2014, exceeds the 10-year, 10 percent energy efficiency requirements set by AB 2021, and will create jobs while promoting energy savings for customers, officials said.

Councilman Paul Koretz, who was also on hand with the mayor, told KNX 1070 NEWRADIO the effort could put the city of L.A. at the forefront of the climate change battle.

“Not only do we have to do it in Los Angeles, we really have to be an example for the rest of the country and beyond if we’re really going to make a dent in that problem,” Koretz said.

Increased use of solar power, more efficient lighting and energy retrofits of city buildings are all options to help meet the 2020 savings deadline, according to Koretz.

The DWP’s energy reduction goal is being pursued at the same time the city is trying to reduce water use by 20 percent by 2017, and cut in half the utility’s purchase of imported water by 2024.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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