Winds and Wildfires Put Electric Crews on High Alert

LADWP Works to Prevent Wildfires without
Preemptively Shutting Down Power

By Carol Tucker

When the Santa Ana winds kick up and a high wind advisory flashes on his screen, Juan Esparza goes into overdrive. He immediately starts checking rosters and calling out to district superintendents to see how many crews he can drum up to support Electric Trouble during that night’s graveyard shift. These days, he is concerned not only about the wind causing power outages, but also about wind-driven hazards with the potential to interfere with electrical lines and trigger a wildfire.

“With conditions being so dry, the potential risk of fires has definitely increased,” said Esparza, a 25-year veteran of Electric Trouble and superintendent for 11 of those years. “When we send out crews to restore power outages during these conditions, they have to be prepared to do work to prevent or put out a fire as well as get the power back on.”

Andrew C. Kendall, Senior Assistant General Manager of Power System Construction Maintenance and Operations, said conditions this past fall – low humidity and an abundance of fuel such as dry grass — put the region at a greater risk of wildfires. “Any utility line, under the right circumstances, is capable of causing an arc, a flash, which sends sparks to the ground. The opportunity for fires is there if all the elements come together.”

All the elements came together during the early hours of October 28 as a wildfire began near the Getty Center in the Sepulveda Basin. Electric Trouble dispatched crews to the fire where an emergency unified command center was already set up. The Energy Control Center (ECC) de-energized three residential circuits in the immediate vicinity of the fire, serving portions of Bel Air, Brentwood and Westwood to prevent electrical equipment from sparking or flaring up hot spots.

Investigators later determined that wind had blown a dried-out eucalyptus branch from a tree located on private property into LADWP distribution lines, causing them to arc. The chain of events started by the wind-blown branch led to a brush fire that destroyed a dozen homes. Inspection showed no failure of electrical equipment in starting the Getty fire. The line that was struck by the branch remained in service throughout the fire and the pole was not significantly damaged. LADWP had also performed aggressive vegetation management in the fire vicinity, such as trimming 248 trees, in July to protect the public’s safety and to prevent power outages.

 

The Getty Fire destroyed six poles that were replaced by the following day.

Earlier that month, 45 LADWP electrical crews were mobilized to restore outages and repair equipment destroyed by the Saddleridge fire in the Sylmar area of northern Los Angeles. The cause of that fire remains under investigation, and no LADWP equipment was implicated or involved. Pushed by 60 mph wind gusts, the wildfire burned 8,800 acres and destroyed 16 power poles. As a result of that fire, LADWP crews replaced 40 poles, 4,000 feet of overhead and 150 feet of underground conductors. Power was restored within 24 hours for all 17,200 customers who were affected.

Power Shut-offs
Wildfire exposure and mitigation related to power equipment has become a hot button issue for electric utilities, their customers, governing bodies, regulatory agencies, and the financial community. Prior to this fall’s devastating blazes, the 2018 Camp Fire in Northern California and the 2017 fires in Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles counties were linked to power lines and other electrical equipment.

The increase in the number and severity of wildfires in California has heightened the need for electric utilities to mitigate the risk of fires involving power equipment. Facing predictions of high fire threat this year, the state’s major investor-owned utilities (IOUs) – Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison – preemptively shut off power for large swaths of customers to prevent electric equipment from sparking a blaze. LADWP has determined not to take that extreme measure because only a fraction of its service territory lies in high fire threat zones, and the Department coordinates regularly with the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD).

“We want to assure our customers that LADWP does not turn off power to customers before or during wind events. Due to our location in a highly urbanized area with far fewer wildfire prone areas, we do not face the same threat of wildfire as many of the rural counties located in other service areas served by the larger investor-owned utilities,” according to a Department statement issued October 9.

To put the service territories into context, PG&E serves an area approximately 70,000 square miles, Southern California Edison’s service area is 50,000 square miles, while the City of Los Angeles, served by LADWP, is approximately 465 square miles. According to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Fire Threat map, only 0.5 percent of LADWP distribution system lies in an extreme risk (Tier 3) area and about 15 percent of its power distribution lines traverse an elevated risk (Tier 2) area.

“The LAFD has been working closely with our partners at DWP to assist with their ongoing efforts to mitigate wildfire risk,” said LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas. “It’s a process that DWP is firmly committed to and together our agencies will continue that work going forward to protect Angelenos from the threat of wildfire.”

Stepping Up Wildfire Mitigation
Since 2008, LADWP has employed reliability standards for power equipment that helps mitigate wildfire risks in high-threat fire zones. In addition, the Department has aggressive vegetation management and Power System Reliability Programs (PSRP), both of which serve to help mitigate wildfires.

During Red Flag warning periods (when the National Weather Service informs firefighting and other agencies that conditions are ideal for a wildfire), additional restrictions are in place for work in designated fire threat and brush clearance areas. For example, LADWP suspends all non-essential work in Tier 2 and 3 zones. Esparza said that when work has to be done in these zones, “crews need to carry all their safety gear, communications, food and water to the location they are working, not leave them in the truck down the hill.” In some cases, dried brush is cleared, trees are trimmed, and the ground soaked within a 10-foot radius prior to doing the electric work.

This year, LADWP has put new protocols in place to further prevent wildfires and more are in the works. LADWP distribution lines are designed to automatically re-energize after they relay out. For the first time, LADWP turned off the automatic re-closure function of its distribution lines in the area of the Saddleridge fire and the Getty fire in addition to de-energizing those circuits directly impacted by the fires.

LADWP also recently presented a new Wildfire Mitigation Plan to the Board of Water and Power Commissioners in compliance with state legislation (SB 901), which requires that public utilities prepare a wildfire mitigation plan by January 1, 2020 and update it annually thereafter. “The plan calls for hardening our system against fire risk. We’ll be installing more steel poles and covered wire,” said Kendall, noting that insulated wire is becoming an industry practice in fire threat areas.

Proactive Maintenance

Jeff Williams, Transmission and Distribution District Supervisor, is a subject matter expert on all things related fire mitigation regulations. He said LADWP has a robust inspection and maintenance program that either meets or exceeds state and federal regulations. If a pole is determined to be deteriorated and presents a fire risk, it is scheduled for replacement within a year for Tier 2 fire risk zones and within six months for Tier 3 fire risk zones.

“We ensure the equipment is in safe operating condition and clear of trees, brush, weeds and other vegetation that may cause damage in high wind situations,” Williams said. That includes using infrared cameras on distribution equipment to look for “hot spots,” indicating a loose connection that could lead to a fault. LADWP also performs regular ground inspections of vegetation that may cause damage to power lines in high wind situations, and trims brush and trees as necessary.

Over the last five years, LADWP has invested $3.9 million in Power System reliability work, which includes the replacement of aging infrastructure and reduces the frequency and duration of power service interruptions.

Ken Boothe, Supervisor of Transmission and Distribution out of the Van Nuys District, was overseeing the replacement of two wooden poles on Tujunga Canyon Boulevard that were damaged by a falling tree during a wind storm. Because of the location in a Tier 3 extreme fire risk zone, Power Distribution opted to replace the wooden poles with steel poles. Situated close to homes, up against a hillside, the poles were supporting two spans of 4.8 kV wires along with communication lines.

The majority of LADWP poles are still wood but they are often replaced with taller steel poles in the fire risk areas. The wooden poles are still preferred in some locations, such as a high wind area because they are shorter and stouter.

A Van Nuys District crew works to replace a fallen wood pole with a steel pole in Tujunga–an extreme fire risk zone.

Coordinated Effort

It was early the morning of October 29 when Esparza finally went home to get some rest before coming back to the Unified Command Center at Jackie Robinson Stadium off Sepulveda Boulevard, just southeast of where the Getty fire was burning in the canyon.  Both LADWP Water and Power Systems had set up emergency command post vehicles on the command center grounds. While Electric Trouble crews worked to restore power, monitor electrical lines, and coordinate with the Fire Department, Water Operations was ensuring that tanks and reservoirs were filled and ready to assist firefighters as needed.

Altogether the Getty fire affected up to 1,360 customers during its peak, with 88 percent restored within 24 hours. Six poles were damaged by the fire and LADWP crews worked through the night and following day to replace them. LADWP will proactively replace another eight wooden poles with steel poles, and will replace 2,000 feet of overhead conductors with insulated wire.

“It definitely takes a coordinated effort both with other agencies and among our LADWP divisions,” Esparza said, as he prepared for a briefing at the Unified Command Center with LAFD, LADWP’s Water System Operations, L.A. Building and Safety, L.A. Unified School District, Cal Fire, Southern California Gas Co. and many other agencies.

Along with the Water and Power Systems, LADWP’s response to the Getty Fire required support from many other divisions including Office of Emergency Management, Customer Service, Information Technology, and Public Affairs. “I made a lot of new friends,” Esparza said. “You get to know people from other divisions and feel like you’re part of a team. We all may work for the same company but a disaster like this really brings you together.”




LADWP Welcomes Nicole Neeman Brady to Board of Commissioners

Nicole Neeman Brady, an environmental policy expert with experience in energy, water and agricultural management, was appointed to the Board of Water and Power Commissioners by Mayor Eric Garcetti. She was confirmed by the Los Angeles City Council on November 8, 2019 to serve a term ending June 30, 2021.

“Nicole’s breadth of experience in environmental policy and track record as a creative problem-solver will make her a powerful leader at LADWP,” said Mayor Garcetti. “I have no doubt that her vision and expertise will help us strengthen a utility that’s front and center in building a greener, more sustainable Los Angeles.”

Neeman Brady has over 11 years of experience in energy, water, and agriculture management, and she currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer and Principal of the Renewable Resources Group, where she directs investments and develops opportunities. She’s also a member of the Colorado River Board of California and sits on the board of directors for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.

Prior to joining the Renewable Resources Group, Neeman Brady was President and Founder of Edison Water Resources, a subsidiary of Edison International, where she developed water treatment and recycling strategies. Neeman Brady also served in several leadership roles at Southern California Edison, including the role of Director of Energy Procurement.

“I am excited and humbled by the opportunity to represent the city and LADWP’s customers in providing oversight of our utility, and I’m grateful for Mayor Garcetti’s trust and support,” said Neeman Brady. “I’m eager to begin, and look forward to being a part of shaping our great city’s water and power future.”

Earlier in her Edison career, Neeman Brady served as Director of Renewable and Alternative Power Contracts, and Manager of Strategic Projects. Before joining Edison, Neeman Brady worked in consulting for McKinsey & Co, strategic planning for Twentieth Century Fox, and private equity for Goldman Sachs.

She holds dual Bachelor of Arts degrees, with honors, in architecture and in economics from Brown University and a Master of Business Administration degree, with distinction, from Harvard Business School.

Neeman Brady currently serves on the Colorado River Board of California and on the board of directors of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.

 




The Great Comeback of the Public Drinking Water Fountain

By Albert Rodriguez

Long revered as a symbol of health, civic pride and a champion of public space, the urban drinking water fountain has seen tough times in recent years. The advent and saturation of single-use plastic water bottles and sugary drinks has denigrated the once noble water fountain to a weathered, barely functioning object of curiosity in parks and schools.

Today, all that is changing, as LADWP moves forward with a multi-faceted initiative to make Los Angeles one of the most sustainable cities in the world.  LADWP plans to install or refurbish 200 drinking water fountains, more recently referred to as hydration stations, citywide by 2035 for the enjoyment and health of all residents and visitors in the city. LADWP will partner with the City’s Department of Recreation and Parks and Department of General Services to install, refurbish and maintain the hydration stations.

L.A.’s Tap Water, by the Numbers

1 state-of-the-art filtration plant
2 aqueducts
84 pump stations,
118 tanks and reservoirs,
328 pressure regulator and relief stations (controls water pressure)
560 miles of trunklines (pipes greater than 20 inches in diameter)
6,780 miles of distribution mainlines (20 inches in diameter or less)
120,000 water quality tests performed on samples taken throughout the city!

This concerted effort to increase access to clean drinking water and decrease reliance on single-use plastic water bottles is one way LADWP can promote a more sustainable, healthier future for customers and the communities it serves. Nearly 50 million plastic water bottles are purchased and discarded every year across the U.S. with only 30 percent getting recycled. This is in addition to the environmental impacts created and the resources used to manufacture, package, and distribute these bottles.

It is only fitting that a world-class city like Los Angeles promote its drinking water and public hydration stations in much the same way that Rome, Tokyo or Paris does. Locals in those cities use their nasonis, mizu nomi ba, and fontaines d’eau potable every day. In contrast, many people here in L.A. don’t realize that bottled water is largely unregulated while LADWP’s tap water meets all federal and state drinking water regulations.

“The new and refurbished hydration stations will remind Angelinos of the importance that clean drinking water plays in our lives, our health and our connection to the environment,” said Razmik Manoukian, LADWP Director of Water Quality. “Thanks to LADWP’s comprehensive planning, robust treatment and monitoring infrastructure, our drinking water is clean and reliable and should be a focal point of our civic pride as it is in many other prominent cities.”

The new hydration stations will be placed at a variety of locations throughout the city where individuals can fill up their reusable water bottles with clean, refreshing tap water. All hydration stations will feature reusable water bottle filling stations and some outdoor stations will include spigots to fill water bowls for pets.

Stations have already been placed at Balboa Park, L.A. City Hall East, and at the John Ferraro Building. In addition to the installation at large municipal buildings and at parks, LADWP is working to install or refurbish hydration stations at our customer service centers and employee facilities.  Older water fountains will be replaced with new stations at LADWP’s Water Testing Laboratory, Water Quality Laboratory, L.A. Aqueduct Filtration Plant, Western Yard, East Valley Yard and the Surveyors Office.

As the city prepares for the 2028 Olympics, LADWP will be working to strategically place hydration stations in areas that are anticipated to have large gatherings of spectators and participants. These stations will provide an alternative to sugary drinks and help promote the benefits of drinking water. LADWP counterparts at Eau de Paris (Paris Water) are currently preparing for the 2024 Olympics and have over 1,200 hydration stations throughout their city.

“We are working closely with our friends in Paris to learn from their experience and efforts,” said Serge Haddad, Section Manager in LADWP’s Water Quality Division.  “The Olympics is a world stage where people witness the best athletes competing for medals and it is the perfect opportunity to put L.A. water on that highest podium and share why it’s the gold standard in quality.”

 Moreover, LADWP is looking to expand the Hydration Station program by establishing partnerships with commercial customers and other agencies such as LAUSD. Educating children on the benefits of L.A.’s drinking water is critical to achieving the city’s sustainability goals for future generations.

L.A.’s drinking water is safe and treated to the highest quality.  So drink up, and drink with confidence!

 




Water Quality Staff Meet Adopt-A-School Pen Pals at Special JFB Luncheon

By Albert Rodriguez

LADWP Water Quality staff helped kick-start summer 2019 in back in June for their Adopt-A-School pen pals from 75th Street Elementary School with an end-of-the-school-year celebration and luncheon. The event at the John Ferraro Building, finally allowed the pen pals to meet in person following a year of exchanging hand-written letters about their hobbies, family and friends, school work, and career goals. The program helps students develop reading, writing, and social skills and also provides them with an opportunity to learn from our own in-house S.T.E.M. professionals by developing friendships and learning about careers in the water system.

LADWP employees and their student pen pals were able to get to know each other face-to-face, enjoy a meal and listen to informative presentations by Utility Services Specialist Lead, Sandra Yeh on how the Pen Pal program benefited and motivated her as a young student and another on water conservation by Anthony Tew, Civil Engineering Associate. After the meal students took part in an interactive science experiment developed by LADWP Microbiologist and Adopt-a-School program coordinator Manely Rashedan. Students learned about culturing microbes and their presence on various surfaces/objects.

“We planned all the presentation and activities in a way that would inspire our little pen pals to think about a future career in S.T.E.M. fields,” said Rashedan “Students had a wonderful time meeting their employee pen pals and loved participating in the science activity. It was quite special to them.”

75th Street Elementary School is one of 22 schools adopted by LADWP during the 2018-2019 school year. The two main components of LADWP’s Adopt-A-School initiative include the Pen Pal Program and Reading Buddies Program. Although this is the 8th year the Water Quality Division has partnered with 75th Street Elementary School, employees Department-wide have written to and inspired students at various local elementary schools since the Adopt-A-School program began back in 1984.




LADWP Headquarters Gets Charged Up

JFB Becomes Test Site for Dual Battery Pilot Project

By Carol Tucker

The northeast corner of the LADWP JFB parking lot has hosted several demonstration projects over the years, including a 200 kW fuel cell and three micro-turbines totaling 120 kW. Recently, the site has been expanded to accommodate a battery energy storage system (BESS) pilot project that will help determine the viability of battery technology in transitioning to a clean energy future for Los Angeles.

The JFB BESS Pilot Project will “pave the way for multiple energy storage projects at the transmission and distribution levels as well as customer-owned energy storage projects,” said James Barner, Manager of Resource Planning and Development.  “This project will help inform future decisions on achieving the goals of the Mayor’s Green New Deal and state mandates for reducing carbon emissions from our power generation portfolio.” Under the Green New Deal, LADWP is working to increase renewable energy to 55% by 2025, 80% by 2036, and 100% by 2045 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its power portfolio.

“It’s important that we gain a better understanding of all available energy storage technologies to meet our goals,” said Electrical Engineer Matt Hone, who heads the Power System’s energy storage and new technologies group. Once the test period is concluded, the JFB BESS will be used for a variety of energy applications, such as shaving energy use during peak periods, and remote energy monitoring and control.

The project has involved installing two types of battery energy storage technologies side by side, and connecting them to LADWP’s headquarters building. One is a 100 kW, 4-hour lithium-ion battery and the other is a 100 kW, 4-hour vanadium redox flow battery.

With installation nearly complete, the project will undergo a series of tests before being placed into service prior to the end of the year. Subsequently, LADWP will partner with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) for a one-year pilot study. The study will evaluate and gain insights regarding the performance, operation and feasibility of these two types of battery technology as well as provide training for LADWP staff. Other goals are to help LADWP transition to a more resilient electric power system, and ensure that the most up-to-date operational and safety standards are incorporated.

Lithium-ion batteries are the more popular type of battery technology, commonly used in cell phones and also widely used in electric and hybrid vehicles. LADWP has already gained experience with lithium-ion batteries at the Beacon Energy Storage System in the Mojave Desert. Flow batteries are not widely used by electric utilities but offer a lot of potential advantages for energy storage, such as improved safety, increased charging capacity and longer duration capability. Flow batteries use liquid electrolyte stored in external tanks rather than in each battery cell.

Arevik Petrosyan, Associate Electrical Engineer and Project Manager along with Hone, said the two-year initiative has been a team effort including staff from Power Engineering and Construction, Architecture and Drafting, Fire Protection, Supply Chain, and Information Technology Services to address various issues including those related to cyber security. LADWP construction forces did all site preparation work, such as foundation expansion, conduit and ground grid installation, transformer, switch gear and other interconnection equipment. The contractor, Doosan GridTech /KTY Engineering, has been tasked with procuring, installing, integrating, and testing and commissioning both battery systems.




La Kretz Goes LEED Platinum

LADWP’s La Kretz Innovation Campus is the first building in the U.S. to achieve both LEED v3 Platinum in New Construction and WELL v1 Gold Core and Shell certifications. LEED Platinum is the highest achievement for a building, according to the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) rating system, and La Kretz is the first LADWP building to achieve this level.

“At LADWP, we are committed to walking our talk about sustainability, and that includes green buildings,” said Commissioner Cynthia McClain-Hill, Vice President of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners. “Everything that is happening at La Kretz not only makes sense environmentally, but economically as well, and it shows how our customers and partners can be a part of our move toward a clean energy future.”

Located in LA’s Arts District, the fully-renovated campus, managed by the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), is a 60,000 square-foot, one-story brick masonry building that was purchased by LADWP in 2010. To celebrate the LEED and WELL certifications, LADWP and LACI held an unveiling of the designation plaques at the campus during the recent Net Zero Conference & Expo, the world’s largest annual building industry event dedicated to net zero energy, water, waste, and transit.

“At LADWP, we are proud to have our sustainability practices extend to not only our customers, but our internal operations as well,” says Chief Sustainability Officer, Nancy Sutley. “By implementing extensive clean energy measures throughout our facilities, we are leading by example to help minimize our environmental impact.”

LADWP created the space as a hub for merging science, entrepreneurship, environmentalism and policymaking to advance the development of a sustainable future.  La Kretz was able to achieve LEED platinum status, thanks in large part to state-of-the-art, innovative design features such as a grey water system that provides irrigation for a neighboring park, a microgrid energy solar and battery system, a 175-kilowatt photovoltaic solar canopy, fast charger EV stations and two bioswales.

La Kretz is also the first public building to be WELL certified in Los Angeles. The building was able to achieve WELL Gold due to the facility’s access to LADWP’s quality potable water system, excellent inside air quality and the overall well-being of the building design. The WELL Building Standard is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and wellbeing, through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind.

 




Stormwater and Solar+Storage Projects Honored for Engineering Excellence

Western Council of Construction Consumers Honors LADWP with Six Awards

By Paola Adler

Two innovative LADWP projects were recently honored with six awards from the Western Council of Construction Consumers (WCCC) for excellence, sustainability and innovation in construction. LADWP Water System’s Tujunga Spreading Grounds Enhancement Project and LADWP Power System’s Beacon Solar & Battery Energy Storage System were each awarded three 2019 Owners’ Project Excellence Awards. The WCCC award program recognizes continuous improvement and excellence in engineering, design and construction of quality, cost-effective, innovative and sustainable construction projects.

The Tujunga Spreading Grounds Enhancement Project reconfigures and deepens 20 existing stormwater capture spreading basins of varying sizes into 10 deeper basins, doubling the capture capacity of the stormwater that percolates into the natural aquifer below to recharge the City’s groundwater supply. The Tujunga Spreading Grounds Enhancement Project will increase LADWP’s capture capacity to 5 billion gallons of water, enough to supply up to 48,000 single family homes in Los Angeles. The enhancements will also help improve the environment and provide social equity by beautifying the community with native vegetation and open space.

LADWP’s Beacon Solar & Battery Energy Storage System is the Department’s largest owned solar plus utility-scale energy storage facility, supplying 250 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy alongside a 20MW lithium-ion battery storage system. The project is the first of its kind for the Department. The power plant and storage system work in tandem to supply clean, carbon-free energy to LADWP’s customers while maintaining reliability. The project will help support the Department’s renewable energy goals, such as providing a 100 percent renewable energy supply by 2045 as outlined by Mayor Eric Garcetti’s 2019 Sustainable City pLAn.

“These two projects showcase LADWP’s commitment to excellence across the Department,” said Martin L. Adams, LADWP General Manager and Chief Engineer. “Innovation in engineering has always been at the core of what we do at LADWP, all the way back to William Mulholland. Our employees continue to plan and build innovative solutions to provide safe and reliable water and power to our customers.”

In the “Infrastructure – New Construction” category, WCCC awarded LADWP’s Beacon project its second highest award, the Distinguished Project Achievement Award, for meeting its criteria requirements while also maintaining an extraordinary safety record. LADWP’s Tujunga Spreading Grounds project received the Exceptional Project Achievement Award, the WCCC’s third highest honor, in the “Infrastructure – Renovation” category. Both projects were also recognized with two Special Distinction Awards – the Sustainability Excellence Award, given to projects that achieved high sustainability requirements, took creative sustainability approaches and achieved significant energy savings; and the Innovative Project Solutions Award, for projects where new, unique or innovative construction solutions were implemented.

The projects have also been recognized through industry awards at the state and national level, with Tujunga receiving two awards in Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Sciences (AAEES) in April 2019 and Beacon being chosen as the American Society of Civil Engineer (ASCE) Region 9 “Outstanding Energy Project” for 2018.

LADWP’s Water Resources division is supporting the Tujunga Spreading Grounds Enhancement Project, which will be completed in late 2020. Learn more about the project by visiting www.ladwp.com/TSG or watching the following video.

LADWP’s Beacon Solar & Battery Energy Storage System has been operational since October 2018. You can learn more by reading our project profile here on Intake.




Retirements: November 2019

We extend sincere congratulations to all the employees who, after many years of dedicated service, are joining the ranks of LADWP retirees. For a complete archive  and the latest month of retirement listings, visit the Water and Power Employees Retirement Plan website.

Blondeel-Timmerman,John F Power Transmission and Distribution
Carter, Carolyn A Customer Service Division
Castellanos, Robert R Power Construction and Maintenance
Foerstel, Gregory J Power Transmission and Distribution
Fox, Gary A Fleet Services
Golfo , Rolando D Power Supply Operations
Gonzalez, Josephine A Office of Sustainability
Hughes, Thomas W Power Supply Operations
Hulsey, Gary R Power New Business
Kirkwood, Calvin Water Distribution
Lopez, David F Supply Chain Services
Mannino,James P Power Construction and Maintenance
Martinez,Timothy M Power Supply Operations
Mcauley, William Security Services
Morrow, Ronald H Power Safety and Training
Nine, Michael S Water Distribution
Osborn, Gregory J Power Transmission and Distribution
Posey, James A Water Engineering
Sherrod, Christy M Customer Service Division
Sloan, Helena J Customer Service Division
Starkjohann, Gregory J Water Operations
Street, Marshall A Water Distribution
Tasinga, Isaac K Power Construction and Maintenance
Torres, Oscar V Power Supply Operations
Zumwalt, Mark L Integrated Support Services



Woman in purple suit standing in front of wall with LADWP seal

Q & A with Reiko A. Kerr – LADWP’s First Woman to Lead Power System

Interview By Carol Tucker

Reiko Kerr became the first woman to lead LADWP’s Power System when she joined the Department in 2016. From Day 1, she took it as a personal responsibility to create mentoring opportunities to support emerging women engineers and new programs to promote and recruit women in LADWP’s workforce. In recognition of her commitment to advancing women in the electric power industry, Reiko recently received the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Spark Award, which honors individuals who have contributed to the advancement of women by mentoring those around them.

Reiko, who is Senior Assistant General Manager of Power System Engineering, Planning, and Technical Services, co-leads the Power System with Andrew C. Kendall, Senior Assistant General Manager of Power System Construction, Maintenance, and Operations. Reiko manages all aspects of the Power System’s critical engineering and planning functions including: generation, transmission, and distribution engineering; business development, renewable energy programs, Clean Grid LA, regulatory compliance, and contract administration. One of her biggest responsibilities is to lead the Power System’s transition to a clean energy future, including participation in the Energy Imbalance Market (EIM).

Intake had the opportunity to talk with Reiko recently about being a woman in a traditionally male profession, her vision for L.A.’s energy future, and other topics.

****

When you first came on board, there was a lot of discussion at the executive level and at the Board of Water and Power Commissioners regarding gender equity at LADWP. Have you seen much progress in this area?

Women make up approximately 35 percent of LADWP’s Power System. But if you remove women in clerical, customer services, and administrative positions, it is quite different. Clearly, these positions are critical to LADWP’s success, but women should also have access to the non-traditional roles that have historically been occupied predominately by men. In 2018, we promoted six women to management-level positions, which represented a 600 percent increase. In 2019, for first time, we now have female Electrical Services Managers assigned to the field.

This isn’t a situation unique to LADWP. The industry as a whole must do better. Mayor (Eric) Garcetti issued Executive Directive No. 11 regarding Gender Equity in City Operations to ensure the City’s governance is inclusionary and non-discriminatory for populations that have historically been underrepresented.

What is it like to be a woman in a non-traditional field?

I think it’s important to remember that we need our male supporters and mentors. It’s a very different message when I talk about the importance of gender diversity versus when Andy Kendall does it. Either way, it’s the right thing to do, but the message is different when it is supported by men. When I look at other successful women in the industry, without fail, each has been supported and mentored by male colleagues. As an organization, we must ensure that all employees, including women have equal opportunities in the workplace. It is also important that we confront our individual implicit biases. We all have them and it’s important to recognize them and work hard to overcome them.

When the faces of our employees match the communities we serve, we will know we have been successful. We have work to do so that we ensure our workforce reflects the communities we serve. Anything less is unacceptable.

There is a lot of institutional stereotyping that is changing over time, but it’s still not there. You see more diversity on the vendor side, but not so much in the institutional utilities. What’s nice to see is that in the industry, conferences are putting more of a focus on having diverse panels.

How do you navigate the challenge of being in charge of a largely male organization such as the LADWP Power System?

As the new member of the team, I build consensus as I build my team. I earn their respect. When I come into a workplace, I don’t make wholesale changes – I want to learn the lay of the land first. Here, I think I’ve done a good job of coming in and gaining the respect of my team, recognizing their strengths and weaknesses, and acknowledging contributions from our team members. That’s the key: it’s the team, it’s not me. I also recognize you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. So to be successful, surround yourself with successful, hard-working, technically capable people, and the sky’s the limit.

You are a role model for women here at LADWP as well as younger women who aspire to careers in STEM. What advice do you have for women either starting out in their careers or working to advance to higher levels in management at their organizations?

Be flexible. Don’t map out your career path. Be flexible in your career path and your career choices. If I had mapped out my path when I started, I’d be completely wrong. And I hear that from women all over. I am a finance person, I’m a CPA, and here I am in the Power System. Recognize that skill sets are transferable. So I say get your name out there, get your face out there. Raise your hand and volunteer. But then if you do, don’t let them down. Meet your commitments, go above and beyond.

Attitude. Is. Everything. Your attitude is contagious – good or bad. You set an example. Are you open to new ideas? Critical of new ideas? Supportive of your team members? Do you figure out a way to get to Yes? Do you support your colleagues? Do you celebrate other’s success (even if that person was your competition)? Are you angry? Are you critical?  Do you continually point out problems, or do you identify problems and offer up solutions? Are you grounded in other’s perception of you and does that align with your perception of yourself? Be aware of opportunities that exist. Continue to enhance your skill sets. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Know your value proposition. What value do you bring to the table?

What are the biggest challenges for LADWP’s Power System?

First – personnel. We need to ensure we have the right work force and skill set for our future utility business needs. As we move to adopting advance technology and smart grid, we need data scientists and statistical analysts to help make informed decisions. We need cyber security expertise and computer science engineers. We need people with the right core competencies and updated recruiting tools to give LADWP a competitive advantage.

There are also challenges created by the silver tsunami, with a high number of personnel retiring. Considering the time required to train new personnel, and the challenge of retaining them, this can create quite a knowledge gap. We need to be able to retain staff in critical classifications to ensure appropriate operations of our system.

Second—infrastructure. We are working to modernize our 100-year-old infrastructure to enable advanced technology and an electric system that will last for the next century while maintaining the same level of reliability.  The investments we make today need to meet our future customers’ needs.

What are you most excited about?

I’m very excited to see staff’s engagement regarding LA100 – the 100 Percent Renewable Study, launched in fall 2017, as well as the Clean Grid LA efforts. This has been a very robust process led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory with a diverse citizen-based Advisory Group representing multiple interests. We expect to see preliminary results by the end of 2019. Ultimately, the study will provide a roadmap for achieving 100 percent renewables or 100 percent carbon free supply. I think we’re on the right path.




In Memoriam: August 2019

LADWP extends its condolences to the families and friends of current and former employees who have recently passed.  Visit the Water and Power Retired Employees’ Retirement Plan website to view and download monthly notices of retirees and active employees who have passed away.

As of August 2019

Warren H. Ash, 96 Power Design and Construction
Rudolph F. Barbosa, 87 Power Distribution
Norma J. Bates, 83 Power Distribution
Joseph G. Brooks Jr., 72 Power  Distribution
Francis D. Busser, 86 Accounting
Raymond Corley Jr., 83 Water Engineering
Laroy A. Dameron, 89 Water Operating Division
George G. Daniel, 95 General Services
Eleanor P. Dudley, 94 Management Information Services
Alexander Godfrey, 69 Customer Service Division
Jerry F. Harrington, 86 Power Distribution
William Y. Ishibashi, 84 Fleet Services
Sharon F. Janis, 75 Customer Service Division
Claude E. Jeffreys, 86 General Services
David L. Jensen, 74 Power Distribution Executive
Richard T. Kimura, 86 General Services
Shige Kishiyama, 92 General Services
Harold L. Lewis, 83 Power Transmission and Distribution
Gary D. Lyles, 77 Administrative
Manlio A. Manzano, 80 General Services
Leslie J. Mazug, 87 Power Operating and Maintenance
Cliff P. Meyer, 74 Water Quality and Distribution Pumping
Perry L. Morgan Jr., 95 Power Operating and Maintenance
Jane S. Nishimura, 99 Commercial Services
William Rodriguez, 88 Power Design and Construction
John F. Roser, 88 Water Operating
George R. Spencer, 78 Conservation and Planning
Edward Sturtevant, 87 General Services
Henry J. Valdez, 84 Asset Management
Clifford L. Williams, 78 Power  Distribution

 

*Late Notice




Retirements: October 2019

We extend sincere congratulations to all the employees who, after many years of dedicated service, are joining the ranks of LADWP retirees. For a complete archive  and the latest month of retirement listings, visit the Water and Power Employees Retirement Plan website.

October 2019

Alexander, David F. Information Technology Services
Bridges, Montgomery A. Water Distribution
Collado, Renate B. Power Planning, Development and Engineering
Congrove, Kathleen A. Water Quality
Cruz, Rolando Integrated Support Services
Davis, Damon C. Water Distribution
De Weese, Rex S. Integrated Support Services
Dominguez, Miguel Y. Power Transmission and Distribution
Gonzalez, Jaime H. Power Supply Operations
Hardy, Nancy A. Supply Chain Services
Haynes, Robin J. Customer Service Division
Hogan, Timothy M. Power Operating and Maintenance
Kung, Gregory K. Information Technology Services
Lim, George M. Water Engineering
Liu, Nelson Integrated Support Services
Lovato, Lawrence J. Integrated Support Services
Lukjaniec, Rhoda K. Supply Chain Services
Mitchell, Jeffrey C. Integrated Support Services
Munis, Michael E. Water Operations
Nesby, Brenda S. Accounting and Financial Reporting
Ramirez, Madeline R. Finance And Risk Control
Rangel, Raul Power Transmission and Distribution
Reyes, Yvonne M. Power Transmission and Distribution
Rios, Maria J. Business Support Services
Rugar, Paul J. Water Engineering
Sedwick-Griffin, Karen D. Water Distribution
Sherrill, Rebecca J. Power New Business
Silva, Enrique Customer Service Division
Smythe, Stephen M. Facilities Management / JFB
Sneed, Pamela D. Customer Service Division
Swinkles, Mark J. Water Distribution
Toledo, Henry E. Water Distribution
Wolf, Andrew W. Fleet Services
Wong, Raymond K. Retirement Plan Office
Yoshinaga, Bert M. Water Distribution



In Memoriam

LADWP extends its condolences to the families and friends of current and former employees who have recently passed.  Visit the Water and Power Retired Employees’ Retirement Plan website to view and download monthly notices of retirees and active employees who have passed away.

As of July 2019

ACTIVE
Richard E. Escamilla, 54 Power Construction and Maintenance
Yolanda Quezada, 71 Customer Service Division
Julius R. Rondez, 70 Information Technology Services
RETIRED
Luella Becken, 90 Water Operating Division
Diana M. Cates, 75 Customer Service Division
Herman A. Cuellar, 82 Power Design and Construction
Patrick J. Ennis, 83 Energy Distribution Supply
Ricardo Espinoza, 83 Stores
Charles Frazer, 84 Water Operating Division
Edith S. Furst, 90 Customer Service Division
Sheryl L. Gordon, 64 Engineering Services Division
James C. Greer, 86 Power Construction and Maintenance
Harry W. Helfrich, 85 Power Construction and Maintenance
Willie L. Jones, 72 Environmental Affairs
Cleophas McAlpin, 84 Power Design and Construction
Charles A. Palmersheim, 76 Energy Support Services
Pablo S. Poticar, 83 Power Construction and Maintenance
Michael G. Schindler, 93 General Services
Randall T. Swenson, 77 Water Resources – Aqueduct
Dolores M. Toscano, 74 Power Distribution
John K. Whitney, 74 Water Distribution
Lee R. Williams, 95 Water Operating Division