Community Grants Help Expand Clean Energy Benefits for Environmental Justice Communities

By Carol Tucker

A variety of clean air and clean energy programs, ranging from an e-bike library in the Northeast San Fernando Valley to solar arrays and cool roof installations for low-income housing in Wilmington and Watts, are coming to communities in the vicinity of LADWP’s Valley and Harbor power plants.

These are among nine projects that will be receiving grants totaling $4.2 million through the first round of LADWP’s Community Emissions Reduction Grants Program, which aims to improve equity for frontline communities disproportionately burdened by air pollution sources, such as refineries and truck traffic.

“We are working to ensure that all customers and communities of Los Angeles will share in the benefits of our transformation to 100% clean energy,” said Nancy Sutley, Senior Assistant General Manager of External and Regulatory Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer. “The Community Emissions Reduction Grants will help improve air quality in the Harbor and Northeast Valley communities through innovative community partnerships.”

The program is designed to foster environmental equity for the Harbor and Northeast San Fernando Valley communities, which are ranked high in the CalEnviroScreen mapping program. At the same time, the program supports the City of Los Angeles’ green power and decarbonization goals, including 80% renewable and 97% carbon-free energy by 2030 and 100% carbon-free energy by 2035.

Diversity, equity and inclusion has become a high priority for all LADWP operations, policies and programs, including its internal hiring and corporate culture as well as its customer programs. In the past year, LADWP General Manager and Chief Engineer Marty Adams created the Department’s first Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and hired Monique Earl as Senior Assistant General Manager and Chief DEI Officer.

Earl praised the Community Emission Reduction Grants program as “an important initiative to help boost environmental equity for frontline customers who are among the hardest hit by environmental and economic burdens, as we transition to 100% clean energy.”

The Community Emission Reduction Grants will provide $20 million over five years, leveraging existing funding sources to expand clean air technologies, such as electrified bicycles, rooftop solar and battery storage; energy efficiency measures and educational and awareness programs. The grants range from $100,000 to $500,000 and are awarded based on competitive proposals.

Following are the first-round awardees and their clean air projects.

Grant Awardees

Climate Resolve – Cool Roofs and Solar Arrays: Climate Resolve received funding to install smog-reducing cool roofs for 18 qualifying low-income homeowners in the Wilmington and Watts communities to reduce the indoor temperature, cut back on energy consumed by the HVAC systems, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The project includes mounting solar photovoltaic arrays on those rooftops.

Discovery Cube – Solar and EV Charging: To drum up visitors when the museum re-opens later this year, Discovery Cube, located in the northern San Fernando Valley, will use the funds to build a solar-powered sustainability carousel, which will be the first of its kind on the West Coast. It also plans to install
1,645 kilowatts (kW) of solar generation on existing carports and a cadre of EV charging stations.

Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) – E-Bikes for Businesses: The grant awarded to LACBC will support a pilot program to encourage local businesses in the San Pedro and Harbor City communities to use e-bikes for making deliveries rather than gas-fueled cars. LACBC plans to acquire 42 e-bikes to lend to the businesses for six months with an option to buy at the end of the 18-month program.

Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) – Los Angeles Harbor College: LACCD will use the grant to dramatically accelerate the timeline for Harbor College to become 100% carbon-free through decarbonization and electrification initiatives. The Harbor College decarbonization efforts will serve as a proof of concept to replicate at all LACCD’s campuses.

Los Angeles County Internal Services Department (ISD) – EV Charging Stations: The grant to ISD will reduce air quality emissions through the installation of 43 Level 2 electric vehicle chargers at parking lots for the County Olive View UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar. In addition, the grant will support education and training in construction of EV related infrastructure through a partnership with the California Conservation Corps.

ONEgeneration – Education, Outreach and Electrification: Serving communities in Council Districts 2 and 6, Onegeneration’s proposal aims to improve the environment, health and well-being of those communities through education and outreach, and potential infrastructure projects. These projects include energy efficiency retrofits, EV chargers, and converting gas-powered meal delivery vehicles to electric vehicles.

Pacoima Beautiful – Electro Bici Program: Working with People for Mobility Justice, Pacoima Beautiful received a grant to create an e-bike library serving the Northeast San Fernando Valley. The funding will support the labor and personnel costs for donated e-bikes that will be provided to low-income households for a trial period of six months to one year. The program will last three years and be offered to three different groups of households.

Toberman Neighborhood Center – Solar, Batteries & EVs: The grant will support three emissions reduction technologies in San Pedro to improve air quality, reduce utility bills for the Toberman Neighborhood Center, establish a job-training program and other community benefits. The project includes building a solar-powered carport and solar rooftop array with battery energy storage and four EV charging systems.

Two new e-bike programs are among the clean energy programs supported by the grants.

U.S. Green Building Council Los Angeles (USGBC-LA) – Green Affordable Housing: A grant awarded to the USGBC-LA will help fill a gap in the level of support and reduce greenhouse gas emissions for disadvantaged communities in the Eastern San Fernando Valley. The goal is to provide four key interventions through a holistic and innovative platform: tenant education, property owner and manager project and rebate support, community EV charging, and green workforce development in the Eastern San Fernando Valley.
Developed in 2020, the Community Emission Reduction Grants program was originally approved by the Board of Water and Power Commissioners for $10 million in grants to fund emissions reduction projects in Council Districts 2, 6, 7, and 15, all located near Valley Generating Station in the Northeast San Fernando Valley and Harbor Generating Station in Wilmington. Since then, the Board approved doubling the funding to $20 million, and greenlighted the first round of projects on August 24, 2021.

The grants are available to qualifying community-based organizations, regulatory agencies and other nonprofit organizations through a competitive selection process. The next round of grant applications is expected to begin during the second quarter of 2022.

Visit  www.ladwp.com/emissionreductiongrants for more information and updates.

*Feature photo by Art Mochizuki




LA100 Equity Strategies: Community-Driven Effort to Ensure Equitable Transition to 100% Clean Energy for L.A.

LA100 Equity Strategies LogoBy Carol Tucker

All communities will share in the benefits of the clean energy transition, but improving equity in participation and outcomes would require intentionally designed policies and programs.” – LA100 Study

Following the release of the unprecedented Los Angeles 100% Renewable Energy Study (LA100), it became clear that much more work is needed to ensure that all L.A. communities will benefit equitably from the clean energy transformation.

In June 2021, the Board of Water and Power Commissioners announced a new study – LA100 Equity Strategies – to identify and develop implementation-ready programs and strategies to achieve equity outcomes in L.A.’s clean energy transition. The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which conducted LA100, was tapped to lead LA100 Equity Strategies in partnership with several UCLA research groups and departments.

“As we met with communities and engaged in dialogue on the outcomes of LA100, a common and clear theme emerged: that we at LADWP need to do a lot more on ensuring equity and environmental justice for communities who stand to be the most impacted by the clean energy transition”
– Board President Cynthia McClain-Hill

The LA100 Equity Strategies Steering Committee was formed to provide strategic direction for the effort, contributing their knowledge, ideas, and feedback to inform the project. The Steering Committee includes members of community-based organizations representing communities disproportionately affected by inequities in the city’s energy programs and have been underrepresented in shaping energy strategies. The committee also includes the Neighborhood Council LADWP MOU Committee and the City of Los Angeles Climate Emergency Mobilization Office (CEMO).

“Through LA100 Equity Strategies, we will be looking to community-based organizations to help develop community-driven goals, strategies to overcome barriers, and design policies and programs to ensure that equity-deserving communities share the benefits of the clean energy transition,” McClain-Hill said during the first meeting of the Steering Committee in November.

LA100 Equity Strategies is an opportunity to address the historical inequities and at the same time, boost customer participation in clean energy programs, such as demand-response, energy efficiency, rooftop solar, and electric vehicle adoption.

“From the LA100 study, we learned that expanding these customer programs will be essential to achieving our 100% carbon-free energy goal” said Marty Adams, LADWP General Manager and Chief Engineer. “Their participation will help all of L.A. meet our clean energy goals.”

“But as we expand these programs and add many more, we must ensure that customers who are impacted by poor air quality, and have the least ability to afford higher electric bills, are able to benefit from the clean energy transformation.”

Comprehensive Equity Study

LA100 Equity Strategies will produce a comprehensive equity study built around three main tenets of energy justice: procedural justice, recognition justice and distributional justice. Procedural justice refers to enabling the community to have a voice in addressing energy problems, and the policies and approaches to address these problems. Recognition justice involves understanding and addressing past and current energy inequities. Distributional justice means achieving just and equitable distribution of benefits and negative impacts of the clean energy transition.

The Steering Committees will provide guidance on prioritizing the equity outcomes from the study. These outcomes may include reducing energy cost and environmental burdens, expanding clean energy jobs, increasing access to rooftop solar and clean mobility, such as electric cars and bicycles, assessing impacts to housing, and improving reliability.

Following the conclusion of LA100, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the accelerated goal to achieve 100% carbon-free sources by 2035, with interim goals of 80% renewable sources and 97% carbon-free by 2030. In August 2021, the Los Angeles City Council approved motions requiring LADWP to reach 100% carbon-free energy by 2035 and to determine and adopt the path to reach this goal through the 2022 Strategic Long-Term Resource Plan (SLTRP). Updated annually, the SLTRP offers a roadmap for providing reliable and sustainable electricity to LADWP customers with a 25-year planning horizon.

Aligning Power Plans

Simon Zewdu, Director of LADWP’s Power Transmission Planning, Regulatory, and Innovation Division, said the results of LA100 Equity Strategies will “inform and guide the SLTRP from an equity perspective as we plan and develop new programs and strategies to achieve our renewable and decarbonization goals.”

In the fall of 2021, LADWP conducted an intensive stakeholder engagement process that will inform the 2022 SLTRP. Building upon the LA100 study findings, the 2022 SLTRP will conduct modeling and analysis, guided by the stakeholder Advisory Group, and recommend a path to reach L.A.’s 100% clean energy goal.

screenshots of people attending web meeting

The SLTRP Advisory Group began meeting virtually in September 2021.

“These two processes are very much in alignment,” Zewdu said. “LA100 Equity Strategies will provide concrete recommendations to improve energy equity through programs and policies that will be incorporated into future SLTRPs.” Power system staff anticipates the two efforts will merge by mid-2023 after the Equity Strategies study is completed.

Understanding Priorities

Equity Strategies will help LADWP understand the priorities that matter most to environmental justice communities. The process will also provide insight on how best to engage those communities in designing new or modifying existing programs to help reduce the environmental and economic energy burden impacting their areas.

“This is unlike anything LADWP has done in the past. LA100 Equity Strategies is intentionally community-driven and community-informed. This effort is about getting closer to our communities, addressing their needs and resolving issues. Our goal is to produce equitable outcomes in terms of both benefits and burdens,” Zewdu said.

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photo of energy control center

LADWP Joins Western Energy Imbalance Market

By Carol Tucker

“It’s good for customers and it’s good for the environment” – that’s the elevator pitch for joining the Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM). It’s a persuasive argument that resonated with LADWP’s power system.

On April 1st, LADWP became the largest vertically integrated, publicly-owned utility to join the Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM). Operated by the California Independent System Operator (ISO), the EIM is an automated voluntary energy market system that balances supply and demand for electricity every five minutes, using the least-cost energy resources to meet the needs of the statewide electric grid.

“We viewed it as a way to support other power utilities in the Western region while maintaining our autonomy as a vertically integrated utility,” said Reiko Kerr, Senior Assistant General Manager of Power Engineering, Planning and Technical Services. Power System staff investigated the costs and opportunities with joining EIM, and determined it would be feasible as well as beneficial to become fully integrated with other utilities in the West.

“I can’t emphasize enough the significance of this effort, which was extremely complex and involved over 300 staff members and eight different divisions in the Power System,” said Kerr. “This was a model collaboration across the Department. This team trained together, worked together, identified issues and worked through the challenges. In my mind this was a phenomenal success.”

The transition to the Western EIM marked a seismic shift in long-standing bulk power operations and protocols that will benefit customers in Los Angeles and throughout California as well as other western states. Since the transactions occur in real-time when prices are cheaper, the computer-driven market will save millions every year. An analysis conducted by LADWP showed that participating in the EIM offers a potential net benefit of about $12 million per year. Since its inception in 2014, EIM participants have realized a total of $1.2 billion in benefits.

Among other benefits, participating in the Western EIM will help both LADWP and the State of California maintain power reliability and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while optimizing the use of variable renewable energy, such as solar and wind power. This will help prevent the need for curtailment due to over-generation of solar in the state. It will improve reliability throughout the state during a heat wave, when power demand spikes, or during a critical event such as a wildfire. The automated market will find power that is available at the best price among the EIM participants.

ISO officials said LADWP’s participation in the EIM will provide operational and resource efficiencies for customers. The integration of LADWP also brought the benefits of accurately modeling new pump-storage operational constraints, and more sophisticated high-voltage DC line optimization and operational modeling in the real-time market, said Khaled Abdul-Rahman, Vice President of Power Systems and Market Technology. “The ISO appreciates the commitment of LADWP’s staff to successfully join the real-time energy market.”

Over four years in development, the transition was made with all hands-on deck working tirelessly through the night and early morning hours ready to step in and resolve issue at a moment notice, said Project Manager Jaime Pinedo.

photo of men standing in front of DWP building

From left: Paul Schultz, Kai Leung Choi, Jaime Pinedo, Erick Gallegos and Patrick James Cruz Borricano were part of a team of over 300 staff members that collaborated to transition the Department to the EIM. (Photo by Chris Corsmeier). Not pictured is Michelle Tovar-Mora, who served as workstream lead.

“The most satisfying part of this effort was watching all the different groups and divisions across LADWP come together and work as one unit. We worked vertically, from the person installing the meter to the director authorizing resources, and horizontally, from one side of the house to the other,” Pinedo said. “We were able to improve our system, whether it was metering, software systems or processes, and leave it in a better state.”

Within the Power System, the project brought together staff from seven separate groups: Power Construction and Maintenance; Power External Energy Resources; Power Planning, Development, and Engineering; Power Supply Operations; Power New Business Development and Technology Applications; Energy Control and Grid Reliability; and Power Regulatory Compliance and Specifications.

Other divisions that supported the effort were the City Attorney’s Office, Environmental Services, Financial Services, Governmental Affairs, Information Technology (IT), and Supply Chain.

Pinedo, who was the only staff member besides Kerr to be involved in the project from start to finish, said the team encountered roadblocks at nearly every corner as it maneuvered through planning, metering, procurement, legal matters, financial settlements, system integration and change management. Both ISO and the LADWP project teams dealt with significant integration and modeling challenges to enable the systems to talk to each other. Coordination, inspections and testing involved over 850 metering devices at LADWP generating units. Some required reprogramming or even the installation of new meters.

The EIM project team had the herculean task of procuring or modifying seven separate software systems and integrating them with 14 different software applications used by the EIM participating utilities. The software enables LADWP’s power generators, transmission systems and bulk meters to interface with power system components in California and other participating western states, including Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

LADWP’s Energy Control Center has been adjusting to the new work process. They’ve had to get used to “taking their hands off the wheel,” so to speak.  In the past, the ECC scheduled the bulk power purchases a day in advance, basing the expected load on prior years’ weather and demand trends, and adjusted the plan as needed throughout the day. Instead of one day at a time, now they are scheduling the power ever five minutes. Or rather, they monitor while computers do the work. It’s a brave new world.

Featured photo: Overlooking LADWP’s Energy Control Center (Photo by Art Mochizuki).




poster women employees

Empowering Women of LADWP

By Paola Adler

LADWP’s first-ever Women’s Empowerment Panel highlighted the successful careers of six inspiring female employees from different job classifications working in the field and the office. Their stories showcased how LADWP has helped support the 2,470 women working at the Department, as well as the challenges that women in the workplace face as they balance work and life responsibilities.

[Watch a video recording of the panel]

About 270 employees heard from six panelists about their unique career paths and more during the Women’s Empowerment Panel. Top row, from left: Winifred Yancy, Connie DeGuzman and Diane Rojo. Middle row, from left: Alicia Dickerson, Erika Jaramillo, Flordeliza Gonzalez and LaTanya Bogin. Bottom row, from left: Cynthia McClain-Hill, Martin L. Adams and Brian D’Arcy. (Image by Jason Cleanthes)

Women empowering each other—serving as role models and mentors—has been one of the biggest benefits LADWP’s efforts to raise awareness of women’s issues and foster a more supportive culture. “I admire the women who work at LADWP because we help each other. We do study groups, mentorships, promote leadership. When I was taking exams, people would help me with mock interviews. They would push me to do better,” says Principal Clerk Utility Connie DeGuzman, who participated in the virtual panel on March 17, 2021 to celebrate Women’s History Month.

About 270 employees joined in the WebEx event, hosted by LADWP and IBEW Local 18. Along with DeGuzman, panelists included Utility Executive Secretary and Retirement Board President La Tanya Bogin, Maintenance & Construction Helper Alicia Dickerson, Supervising Water Service Representative Flordeliza Gonzalez, Commercial Service Supervisor Erika Jaramillo and Senior Gardener Diane Rojo. The panel was moderated by Director of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs and Interim Racial Equity Officer Winifred Yancy, and also featured remarks from Board President Cynthia McClain-Hill, General Manager and Chief Engineer Martin L. Adams and IBEW Local 18 Business Manager Brian D’Arcy.

During the panel, the speakers shared how they navigated challenges and harnessed their skills and talent to accomplish their goals. The panelists shared their unique career paths, contributions and advice for other employees. All of the panelists expressed happiness as an LADWP employee. Jaramillo noted, “My career here at LADWP has been amazing. I ended up at LADWP by coincidence, and I’m very thankful for that opportunity. I expected to be here six months to a year and 25 years later, here I am. So, I’m very fortunate.”

Beyond their own hard work, several of the panelists mentioned ways LADWP directly supported their career journeys through programs, policies and work culture. Commenting on the benefits of  LADWP’s informal culture of mentorship, DeGuzman said, “I want to say thank you to all the women who have paved the way for me and for all of us who work here, in a company that is predominantly male.” More formal organizations, like LADWP’s Society for Women Engineers, also offer networking and mentoring opportunities to its members.

Both DeGuzman and Jaramillo were thankful for LADWP’s generous tuition reimbursement program, which helped them further their education and advance in their careers while also providing for and taking care of family members. “I was able to obtain my degree in Business Management, although it took me some time to get there because I was taking care of my daughters. Once I finished school, I applied for every position or project that I could,” said Jaramillo. “There is no other place that would give 100 percent tuition reimbursement, and it’s one of the best benefits I received from the Department,” said DeGuzman.

The panelists were also motivated to succeed by supervisors and women in leadership positions at LADWP. Women have increasingly been elevated to leadership and upper management roles at the Department in recent years, with women occupying over half of those positions. Three of the Department’s seven executive team members are women: Senior Assistant General Manager – Power System Engineering and Technical Services Reiko Kerr, Chief Financial Officer Ann Santilli and Senior Assistant General Manager of External and Regulatory Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer Nancy Sutley. And for the first time in LADWP’s history, all commissioners serving on the LADWP Board of Water and Power Commissioners are women. Bogin commented, “To have an all-female Board, that is a huge accomplishment.” Dickerson added, “I’ve been inspired by women who have started at the bottom and risen up.”

LADWP’s all-female Board of Commissioners has inspired many women employees.

Event partner IBEW Local 18, which represents most LADWP employees, supports many leadership and training programs to empower women at LADWP, including the Joint Labor Management Task Force. Assistant Business Managers Lilly Calvache and Shawn McCloud, who helped coordinate this event, both advocate for and mentor all female employees at the Department. “As women, we have to support each other so we can become tomorrow’s leaders,” said Calvache. “Mentoring is so important because it helps us pass on the baton. I was mentored by a female supervisor, and I looked up to her and learned so much from her. Now I work to pass information and expertise on to others.”

Though women have made strides within many fields at the Department, work continues to create more equity in jobs considered non-traditional for women, such as skilled-craft positions. Just over 1.5 percent of LADWP employees in these types of jobs are women. LADWP has partnered with IBEW Local 18 to address this issue through the Utility Pre-Craft Training (UPCT) program, which allows interested workers to receive skilled craft training, counseling and job experience that can lead to stable, good-paying careers in the utility industry, with a particular focus on women and minorities.

Two of the panelists, Dickerson and Rojo, are graduates of the UPCT program. Rojo had switched careers later in life, and the UPCT program provided the resources to work at LADWP. “Without this program, I would not be here where I am now,” she said. “I started off as an apprentice with no experience. I really appreciated the UPCT program because it helped me learn how not to be complacent, and how to apply myself,” said Dickerson.

A frequent challenge that the panelists mentioned was balancing life and career as working mothers and caretakers. “As a woman, a wife and a mother, your job does not end at work,” said Gonzalez. These “second jobs” meant that some of the panelists had to put off career development or advancement until their children grew up or caretaking needs lessened. Gonzalez continued, “Promotion was not an option for me – I waited until my children were in high school before I promoted.” “I put off tuition reimbursement for so long because I had my daughters. I was raising my kids – being at home and taking them to events so that I wouldn’t have to rely on other people to take care of them. I put off my education to do that,” said Jaramillo.

Some participants also shared that, as female employees, they felt pressure to prove their worth to their male Department colleagues to earn respect, especially in work environments that were traditionally dominated by men. Moderator Yancy remembered, “As a Student Design Engineer, I climbed towers, not because I actually wanted to but because the guys in my group did and I had to gain their respect. They never asked me to, but in our minds, we think we need to do that to ‘gain respect.’”

Following the discussion, McClain-Hill and Adams asked the attendees what LADWP could do to better support women in the workplace. Over 30 attendees submitted their ideas anonymously. Responses focused mostly on three areas: career development, workplace conditions and work-life balance.

To work to address these concerns, McClain-Hill and Bogin have partnered to create an LADWP Women’s Council, which will debut in summer 2021. The Council will be comprised of LADWP female rank and file employees, along with IBEW Local 18’s McCloud and Calvache, who are interested in creating and championing programs and initiatives that support the professional growth and leadership development of women at LADWP, as well as provide work-life balance and supportive workplace conditions.

“We accept as given that we have to struggle and balance these issues on our own and just make everything work,” said McClain Hill. “As we continue to look at how we increase the gender diversity at this Department, it seems to me a missing element is to really look at workplace practices that could be adjusted in ways that would just make it easier for women to work here.”

McClain Hill added that women bear the brunt and the responsibility for everything: childcare, doctor’s appointments, school visits, all of it. “Unless workplaces begin to recognize that impact, it is going to be a limitation on what we can achieve,” she said.

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LADWP Lays Out Critical Next Steps to Achieve 100% Carbon-Free Power Grid

By Carol Tucker

Following the conclusion of the groundbreaking Los Angeles 100% Renewable Energy Study (LA100), the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) will move forward with critical next steps toward transforming the city’s power supply to 100% carbon-free by 2035, and the interim milestones of 80% renewable energy and 97% carbon-free by 2030.

In a presentation to the Board of Water and Power Commissioners, LADWP officials laid out the necessary actions that must begin as soon as possible, especially because major projects that involve upgrading transmission lines and generation systems can take years, if not a decade or more. “The LA100 Study found several viable pathways toward developing a 100% renewable energy supply but stopped short of making a recommendation,” said Jason Rondou, Director of Clean Grid LA Strategies at LADWP. “What we’re presenting today are the critical actions that are necessary to make progress toward that 100% goal – whichever pathway is ultimately selected.”

The LA100 study, led by the U.S. Department of Defense National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) developed four scenarios with the same end goal – 100% renewable energy – although they differed in what energy resources would qualify as renewable or clean energy technology and the quantities and timing of those investments. Each scenario was evaluated under three different projections of energy demand. But all LA100 scenarios point to actions that LADWP can take now to stay on track to achieve a 100% renewable or 100% carbon-free energy supply. These include:

  • Increase distributed energy resources equitably: All LA100 scenarios show that customers will play a bigger role in L.A.’s clean energy future through implementing energy efficiency, electrifying buildings and driving electric vehicles, installing solar on their homes and businesses, and enrolling in flexible demand management programs such as demand response.
  • Increase renewable energy: LADWP will need to rapidly secure or develop an estimated 3,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy and energy storage as well as smaller, locally distributed, solar generation coupled with batteries.
  • Accelerate new transmission: LADWP has identified the need to complete 10 critical transmission projects over the next 10 years to ensure grid reliability and to bring renewable energy to where it is needed within the city.
  • Transform local generation: All LA100 scenarios point to the need for some type of renewably fueled combustion generation, which can provide power to the city at any time. While this type of power generation would be used infrequently, it is considered essential to keeping the lights on during the most extreme situations, such as a wildfire causing the loss of transmission.
  • Expand energy storage: LADWP will need to build over 1,000 MW of short-duration energy storage by 2030 to support the electrical capacity needs within Los Angeles.

LADWP officials stressed the need to expand distributed energy programs in underserved, or disadvantaged communities. Toward this end, the Board of Water and Power Commissioners approved a new study, LA100 Equity Strategies, designed to incorporate NREL’s research and analysis to achieve specific, community-driven and equitable outcomes from the clean energy transition.

Launching July 1, LA100 Equities Strategies recognizes the need for “legitimate and substantive engagement with our communities and stakeholders if we are to lead the state and nation on decarbonization and create a model that other utilities can replicate. Put simply, a just transition is equally important as a 100% renewables transition,” said LADWP Board President Cynthia McClain-Hill.

“LA100 Equity Strategies is a critical next step on the path to 100% renewables, with the goal of lifting up all Angelenos so that everyone will share in the benefits of clean energy.”
-Cynthia McClain-Hill

“These communities have the greatest need for managing their energy to reduce their costs. They are also among the hardest customers to reach,” Rondou said. “Going forward, our goal is to achieve at least 50% participation from disadvantaged communities in our energy efficiency, customer solar, demand response and other distributed generation programs.”

This summer, LADWP will begin the next Strategic Long-Term Resource Plan (SLTRP). The SLTRP will incorporate the findings of the LA100 study when evaluating alternative strategies in line with LADWP’s regulatory requirements and environmental policy goals, while maintaining power reliability and minimizing the financial impact on LADWP’s customers. The planning process will also include
a community advisory group, similar to the LA100 Advisory Group, to ensure plans reflect the input of the communities and customers we serve.

Other next steps include launching the environmental review process for the 10 new transmission projects within the Los Angeles Basin, identified through studies as critically necessary to support the increase of renewable energy, and ensure reliability as local in-basin natural gas plants are phased out. To begin transforming local generation, LADWP plans to issue a request for information (RFI) to explore options for green hydrogen power technologies and best practices.

“We view green hydrogen pathways within the L.A. Basin as critical to further our clean energy goals,” Rondou said.




Screen grab of Advisory Group and staff

That’s a Wrap! After Nearly 4 Years in the Making, LA100 Groundbreaking Study Concluded

By Carol Tucker

On Thursday, April 1st, LADWP wrapped up the final meeting of the Los Angeles 100 Percent Renewable Energy Study (LA100) Advisory Group, concluding a multi-year process to identify viable pathways and potential investments that would be needed to provide 100 percent renewable energy while ensuring reliable power to our customers.

The study, led a team of renewable energy experts at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), affirms that LADWP can achieve the City of Los Angeles’ aggressive goal – to be fully powered by 100 percent renewable energy – by 2045, and even by 2035 in the fastest scenario. At the same time, the study shows LADWP can reach 100 percent renewables while remaining true to the core principles of reliability, environmental stewardship, environmental justice, resiliency, and affordability.

“Our power system team worked hand-in-hand with NREL and the Advisory Group for nearly four years. LADWP now has the tools and roadmap to take the next steps to keep us on track to reach 100 percent renewables,” said General Manager and Chief Engineer Marty Adams. Adams praised staff for their commitment and dedication to the LA100 process, which kicked off in June 2017.

“This has been a model for how the Department can work collaboratively and effectively across many divisions, including Power System Clean Grid LA and Integrated Resource Planning divisions, finance, environmental services, governmental affairs, communications and public affairs, and many other groups whose involvement was critical to the project’s success,” Adams said.

Eric Montag, Senior Manager-Distribution and Engineering Support, was tapped to head up the LA100 study and Advisory Group process. Montag described LA100 as a very gratifying assignment and a career game-changer. “There was great satisfaction watching the growth of our staff as they worked on this complex study,” he said. “I’m very proud of all the LADWP staff that have been involved. In some ways, watching their professional growth is more gratifying than the study itself.”

Working under Montag and subsequently Jason Rondou, Director of LADWP’s Clean Grid LA Strategy Division, Ashkan Nassiri played a key part in coordinating with NREL, and worked closely with Communications and Public Affairs to coordinate meetings of the LA100 Advisory Group.

“I took on the role of project manager and contract administrator in early days,” recalled Nassiri, an Electrical Engineer. He started with only one staff member, Anton Sy, who later promoted to Mechanical Engineer in Power Regulatory Compliance and Specifications. “With Anton’s help, we ran the newly established project, defined the scope of contract with the input from many staff in the Power System, brought NREL on board to lead the study, and established the quarterly Advisory Group meetings, among many other responsibilities.”

“My great hope is that LA100 set the precedent for other utilities and different sectors in economy worldwide to evaluate how transitioning their respective sector to clean energy could help create a better and cleaner future for our planet,” Nassiri said. “I want to extend my sincere appreciation for the LA100 team: Scott Moon, Nicholas Matiasz, Steve Swift and previous members Anton Sy and Greg Sarvas. The LA100 success would have not been attainable without their support and dedication.”

He added that LA100 didn’t happen in silo. “One of the best parts of the study was the interaction with well over 50 LADWP subject matter experts from across the Department, along with working with the best and brightest researchers in the nation at NREL. I truly believe this experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

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Keeping the Faith During an Extraordinary Year: LADWP’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Albert Rodriguez

At the close of 2019 and the early months of 2020, LADWP employees began seeing increased media reports about a new and mysterious virus. At first it seemed like nothing more than a faraway story, but all too quickly, it became apparent that a full-scale pandemic was spreading across the globe. Soon, our TV screens were filled with images of upturned lives, devastated local economies and overwhelmed medical and government functions. By March, we watched with bated breath as COVID-19 was poised to engulf Southern California like a menacing, slow-forming tsunami wave taking shape across our collective horizon.

As with any organization, the evolving situation presented a challenge to LADWP. How would the Department carry out its critical function of providing reliable water and power to residents of the City of Los Angeles? What if a large percentage of its workforce suddenly became infected, sick, hospitalized or worse? How would customers who lost jobs and income be able to shelter in place without water and electricity, much less pay for those services? These were some of the most pressing issues facing LADWP leadership at the onset of the pandemic.

Dedication, Teamwork, Ingenuity

Attention to detail was the order of the day for Edmund J. Chavis and other custodial staff as they set out to clean and sanitize all LADWP facilities as much as possible, keeping their fellow employees safe from the spread of COVID-19.

The immediate internal response was to launch Critical Continuity of Operation plans to keep the Department running and to protect employees and their work environment in order to limit the spread of the disease. A telecommuting policy was put in place, greatly reducing the amount of people within LADWP buildings and facilities at any given time.

Overnight, the important, everyday work of custodial crews took on a new significance and became all the more meaningful. Their increased efforts to wipe down and sanitize equipment and high-traffic areas and surfaces at LADWP facilities made them the first line of defense in the battle against COVID. It was certainly not lost on employees who warmly greeted custodial staff with heartfelt appreciation for staying on the job to help protect others.

Switching from sewing upholstery for vehicle seats and other related items, Master Upholsterer Francisco Villalobos-Casillas became a Master Mask Maker as the Department looked for in-house solutions to the pandemic.

Employees were asked to don face masks and wash their hands often, but with a national shortage of facemasks and hand sanitizer, it was imperative that the Department look inward for innovative solutions. The LADWP Upholstery Shop on Main Street was repurposed to start producing face masks, especially those made of fire-resistant material required by the 3,000 employees who work in high-voltage environments. Fire-resistant fabric was cut out of safety shirts, pants and handkerchiefs that were in stock. At its peak, the upholstery shop was distributing nearly 200 fire-resistant masks a day under the expertise of master upholsterer Francisco Villalobos-Casillas.

When Supply Chain Services (SCS) was unable to purchase hand sanitizer for employees due to its scarcity in the marketplace, they looked to the industrial chemists within the Power Construction & Maintenance Test Lab. These employees were able to produce hundreds of gallons of the vital disinfectant and, through cooperation with SCS, got it bottled and distributed to LADWP facilities. Likewise, many other shops came together to ensure a safe working environment for all employees, from installation of plexiglass barriers at workstations, fabrication of thermometer self-check stations and disinfectant dispensers to eye-catching social distancing signage and messaging; all of which attest to the skills and versatility of LADWP employees stepping up to do their part and take care of their fellow co-workers.

Sheet Metal Worker Douglas Skinner with hand sanitizer dispensers made in-house and distributed to LADWP facilities.

Focus on Leadership and Optimism 

As employees settled into the new reality of living and working under pandemic conditions, they looked to LADWP leadership for guidance and encouragement. General Manager and Chief Engineer Martin L. Adams’ optimism and confidence helped buoy the spirits of the Department during this historic crisis. Adams’ constant and reassuring presence through video updates and the first-ever, virtual Employee Town Hall helped galvanized employees and gave them the clear direction needed to work through the uncertainty of the time. His message was to take care of each other and take time to de-stress in order to focus on the Department’s core mission. LADWP’s critical role in providing a reliable water and power supply to a city of 4 million people, desperate for normalcy, was something that simply could not stop.

“We know that many of us will not be returning to the office anytime soon and that we are all doing a balancing act with family and work while at the same time, the city is relying on us,” said Adams in one of his earlier messages.

Marty Adams: “As essential workers, we have to continue providing critical services. We know that what we are doing to safeguard each other is working. We will continue working the plan and continue doing our jobs. Through the ingenuity and creativity of our employees looking out for one another, we will all get through this together.”

The Department also launched an employee appreciation campaign with posters, videos and stories, all highlighting the way LADWP is persevering and getting the job done. The campaign highlighted LADWP’s own essential workers embodying LADWP’s core values, and committed to the mission of delivering critical services to our customers.

Helping Our Customers 

LADWP’s external response to the pandemic was to assure customers that their water supply was safe, thanks to a thorough, state-of-the-art treatment, testing, monitoring and well-maintained distribution system. The message was reiterated that COVID-19 is spread through person-to-person contact and not through water, and that LADWP’s water supply has redundancies in place in the event of any disruption. Thanks to LADWP’s safety protocols, our customers could rest easy knowing they could count on reliable, high-quality drinking water during the pandemic.

To protect customers and employees, all in-person services and residential and commercial customer programs were suspended on March 19. This included program outreach, enrollments, installations, inspections and workshops. Customer Service Centers were closed on March 20 and customers were encouraged to pay their bills online, by phone, by mail or take their payments to a LADWP drop box. With many customers experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic’s effect on the local economy, customers were also offered flexible payment plans.

Customer Service Representatives handled a deluge of calls and processed thousands of applications for low-income, Lifeline and the federal CARES program. Pictured is CSR Lisa Prieto.

In a gesture of compassion and empathy, the first-ever bill relief plan was enacted as LADWP announced it would not shut off services for non-payment. Customers who received a disconnection notice in the mail were told to disregard it, while late fees were also discontinued. In October, LADWP and the LA City Council passed the federally funded CARES Utility Assistance Program. This provided one-time, $500 grants to income-qualified customers to help pay utility bills, allowing the most financially impacted customers to maintain their indispensable water and electric service. Approximately 560 LADWP employees helped process 77,337 applications. The Department had lived up to the concept of being a neighborhood utility, one in which it viewed its customers as partners, vital to the efforts of keeping the city functioning while awaiting a better, brighter tomorrow.

Commitment, Reliability, and Hard Work

Out in the field, the pandemic situation was just as dire and urgent. Meter Reading, Power, and Water Distribution crews were all placed on rotational shifts of up to 50 percent and start times were staggered in order to minimize the number of employees congregating in the yards. To further protect employees, working pods were established to limit contact with other crews, hand sanitizer dispensers were made available and extra vehicles were provided to accommodate single-rider occupancy. Vehicles, tools and equipment were meticulously sanitized before and after use. All employees were routinely reminded to maintain proper hygiene and social distance to protect their co-workers, family and customers.

Erick Reyes is among the Field Service Reps who continued checking meters during the pandemic.

Some of the most publicly visible employees were meter readers who had to step up their customer services skills. Tasked with entering properties to access meters, these employees had to contend with customer reticence and apprehension. They did it successfully with a great deal of diplomacy.

“Our meter readers rose to the challenge by coming to work and successfully reading the vast majority of our meters within the three-day window for each billing cycle,” said Luis Y. Terrazas, Assistant Director of Field Operations. “In doing so, we minimized the amount of estimated reads for the bulk of our customers. Employees also worked safely during this crisis and our reported injuries for 2020 are the lowest since 2009.”

With the arrival of summer, field crews were hit with the added complications of social upheaval in the streets, extreme heat storms and falling ash from wildfires. All of these developments added to increased safety concerns for our field crews. At the height of the protests and disturbances, crews working in affected areas were instructed to return to their districts. Meter readers stopped their work, resulting in estimated billing for some residential customers in affected neighborhoods. Crews that had to respond to major emergencies required escort by LADWP security and/or LAPD officers.

With fierce determination, employees all across LADWP continued to perform their jobs under the difficult conditions brought on by the year 2020.

Then came the extreme heat events and fires, which made it tougher for crews walking the sidewalks, climbing poles or cutting and installing pipe down in trenches. Having to wear masks while performing strenuous physical activity created exasperatingly difficult breathing conditions. There was seemingly no reprieve as unhealthful, ashen-laden air from some of the largest wildfires in state history blanketed the L.A. Basin. This made employees more susceptible to dehydration and heat exhaustion. Still, field crews endured and carried on while taking important safety precautions. They increased their water intake, set up shade and scheduled the most arduous tasks for the early morning or evening.  With perseverance, planning and stamina, they continued providing critical services in spite of what fate had thrown at them.

“All our crews should be commended for performing as they have while adjusting to the changes and safety precautions required of them,” said Walter Rodriguez, Assistant Director of Power Transmission and Distribution. “They dealt with adversity through two unprecedented heat storms while restoring power, providing new service and working to strengthen our grid for increased reliability to all our customers. This was all done with minimal incidents or injuries.”

The Value of Water and Power Service

“The commitment, dedication and willingness to respond of all our employees are important factors in maintaining the reliability of our city’s water distribution system and our power grid. These admirable traits coupled with an incredible work ethic are truly critical in our efforts to collectively see our way through this very challenging period.”
— Water Distribution Division Director Breonia Lindsey

Keeping the water and power flowing coupled with enhanced customer service is LADWP’s core mission, but this responsibility has a much deeper meaning. LADWP provides the vital water and electricity that allows for small miracles every day – enabling children to attend school online, running a small business, driving through a city with working traffic signals, drinking a glass of refreshing water, having clean clothes, taking a hot shower, or simply being able to turn on the lights on the darkest of nights. These things are what really keep the social fabric, economic vitality and civility of our city intact. It is what LADWP employees have always known and why they work so hard.

Although we do not know what 2021 will bring us, we know there are constants that will remain certain and unshakeable. LADWP will continue to keep faith in its values. Its employees will continue looking out for one another with love and devotion to their duties, serving the City of Los Angeles through any uncertainty or turbulence born of extraordinary crises.




Operation NEXT: LA’s Next Major Water Source

Sustainability and resiliency drive the need for developing a local water supply

By Carol Tucker

With purchased imported water becoming increasingly unreliable and costly and anticipated extended dry periods, the need for a local sustainable water supply has never been greater. LADWP has continually worked to expand local water resources through four key strategies: stormwater capture, groundwater remediation and replenishment, water conservation, and recycled water for irrigation, industrial, and environmental uses.

Now LADWP has embarked on a visionary and transformational initiative to further improve the overall water supply resiliency and reliability for Los Angeles. The initiative, dubbed Operation NEXT, will help achieve L.A.’s local water supply goal of recycling 100 percent of available purified wastewater from the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant by 2035, creating a sustainable new water source for Los Angeles.

“Looking to the future, LADWP and the City of Los Angeles are focused on becoming Water Strong – building resilient, sustainable local water supplies,” said Rich Harasick, Senior Assistant General Manager, Water System. “Beginning with William Mulholland’s vision of the L.A. Aqueduct, the Department has had the foresight to understand our city’s growing need for water, and invested heavily in water infrastructure.”

“Operation NEXT is our generation’s vision for ensuring a sustainable and resilient water supply for future generations” – Rich Harasick, Senior Assistant General Manager, LADWP Water

A partnership with Los Angeles Sanitation and Environment (LASAN), Operation NEXT and LASAN’s Hyperion 2035 programs will maximize production of purified recycled water from the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant to replenish the city’s groundwater basins for future use and to augment LADWP’s own supplies at the Los Angeles Aqueduct Filtration Plant. LADWP is working with regulators to potentially allow integrating purified recycled water with the drinking water supply by blending it with imported water sources. The process, known as direct potable reuse (DPR), would further expand the use of purified recycled water from Hyperion and other city water reclamation plants as a supplemental local water source.

Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, operated by L.A. Sanitation, will be retrofitted with advanced treatment facilities for producing purified recycled water. (Photo courtesy of the Mayor’s Office)

Located in Playa Del Rey, the Hyperion plant is one of the largest water reclamation plants in the nation, treating an average daily flow of 260 million gallons per day (MGD) to full secondary standards. Approximately 27 percent of this water is currently being recycled for in-plant, irrigation, industrial and other non-potable uses in the L.A. area. Under the Operation NEXT and Hyperion 2035 programs, LASAN will retrofit Hyperion’s existing conventional treatment process with advanced treatment processes (membrane bioreactors or equivalent, reverse osmosis, and advanced oxidation), to produce up to 174 MGD of purified recycled water. That represents enough water to sustain 780,000 Los Angeles homes.

It will be LADWP’s job to transport that purified recycled water to replenish groundwater aquifers in the West Coast, Central and San Fernando Basins that have been drawn down due to more hardscape and increased pumping to meet growing demands.  A portion of this new water supply will eventually be pumped inland to the Los Angeles Aqueduct Filtration Plant for additional treatment and integration with the drinking water system, said Rafael Villegas, Operation NEXT Program Manager in LADWP’s Water Resources Division.

“We are essentially creating a new local water source, offsetting the need for importing purchased water supplies from hundreds of miles away, and also reusing this valuable resource that would otherwise go into the ocean,” Villegas said.

Water for a Thirsty City

The L.A. Aqueduct first opened in 1913, bringing water to a thirsty city from the Eastern Sierra. (Photo by Art Mochizuki)

Historically, LADWP has relied on three main sources of water: the Los Angeles Aqueduct System, local groundwater, and supplemental water purchased from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). MWD water is delivered via the Colorado River Aqueduct and the State Water Project, which conveys water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta south to Southern California through the California Aqueduct.

Providing water for Los Angeles has never been easy. The city’s growing populous depleted its original water source—the Los Angeles River—early in its history. William Mulholland, the first Chief Engineer of the city’s Municipal Water Department, built the Los Angeles Aqueduct to convey water from the pristine Eastern Sierra mountains through the Owens Valley to Los Angeles, flowing by gravity only.

After the first Los Angeles Aqueduct, LADWP built the extension to Mono Basin and then formed a regional consortium that became MWD, which developed the Colorado River Aqueduct in 1935. In the 1970s, LADWP built the second L.A. Aqueduct to expand the water supply from the Owens Valley.

During the dry periods of the late 1980s through mid-1990s, LADWP began relying more on imported water purchased from MWD. That trend has continued due to dry periods and legal commitments for environmental stewardship on L.A. Aqueduct water from the Eastern Sierra.

Over the last 20 years, LADWP has purchased water supply from MWD ranging from up to 75 percent at the peak of a recent multi-year dry period. Imported supplies continue to be less predictable due to hydrologic variability and continued impacts of climate change. Operation NEXT will help provide a new reliable local water supply to serve the city’s growing population and water needs.

Constraints on Our Water Supply

Today, the city only receives about half of its historic water supply from the
LA Aqueduct while the remainder stays in the Owens Valley and Mono Basin to meet environmental commitments. Meanwhile, MWD’s water sources are also facing challenges. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta faces environmental restrictions on water conveyance related to a declining fish species, and increasing regulatory requirements to protect the remaining populations, according to the California Department of Water Resources.  The Colorado River has also been impacted by climate change and uncertainty around future allocations. Additional external challenges to L.A.’s imported water sources include seismic risk, variable hydrology, and rising costs.

In terms of the city’s local water supply, the quality of L.A.’s groundwater supply has been severely impacted by past industrial practices. LADWP has undertaken significant investments to remediate the groundwater supply and recover the use of this important local resource. At the same time, LADWP has been working with L.A. County Flood Control and the L.A. City Department of Public Works on a variety of projects to replenish the groundwater. Ranging from large infrastructure efforts like improving the Tujunga Spreading Grounds to neighborhood-level stormwater capture improvements, these projects will expand the capacity for capturing stormwater runoff and recharging groundwater aquifers.

Rendering of the Tujunga Spreading Grounds Enhancement Project, which will double the capacity for capturing stormwater that percolates into the basin.

Water conservation is also a key strategy for enhancing the local water supply. But while L.A.’s residents and businesses are vigilant about saving water (water use was lower in 2019 than it was in 1970 despite over one million more residents), conservation efforts alone won’t ensure we can meet L.A.’s future water needs.

“The purchased imported water supplies are such that almost annually we get less water allocated even under normal conditions, and the availability of this water will only worsen,” Villegas said. “With population growth and changing hydrology, there will be increased demand on purchased imported water supplies. We need to be less dependent on that supply so we can ensure city’s vitality for next 100 years.”

Collaborations

Given the initiative’s enormity (the estimated cost of Operation NEXT and Hyperion 2035 is over $8 billion), LADWP is engaged in two pilot projects with LASAN to study the feasibility of converting Hyperion into a fully advanced water purification facility. LADWP and LASAN are collaborating on the Hyperion Advanced Water Purification Facility that will serve nearby Los Angeles International Airport. The pilot project will provide 1.5 MGD of advanced treated recycled water for heating, cooling, toilet flushing and other non-potable uses.

The second pilot project is to develop a 1 MGD Hyperion Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) Pilot Facility that will compare and monitor three MBR systems side-by-side. The goal is to determine the best treatment technology for the future full transformation of Hyperion to recycle 100 percent of the available wastewater for beneficial use.

Challenges and Next Steps

Once the purified recycled water from Hyperion is ready, one of the biggest challenges will be distributing and storing the new water source. Villegas’ team is working with the Water Replenishment District of Southern California, which is the Watermaster of the West Coast and Central Groundwater Basins, on a joint masterplan to evaluate the best groundwater locations for injecting and extracting Hyperion purified recycled water. Scheduled for completion in 2022, the plan will identify preferred locations for injecting the purified recycled water into aquifers within the local groundwater basins.

LADWP also plans to convey to the purified recycled water to the San Fernando Groundwater Basin, where it would eventually be extracted, treated, and blended into the drinking water distribution system. Should DPR regulations allow, LADWP’s strategic priority will be to send the purified recycled water to the Los Angeles Aqueduct Filtration Plant in Sylmar for further treatment and integration with water from imported sources. Additionally, LADWP is collaborating with MWD on integrating this new local water supply into the agency’s Regional Recycled Water Program Backbone System, which is another major DPR program in Southern California.

One of the biggest hurdles for LADWP will be building virtually an entire new water distribution system, complete with new pipelines, pump stations, tanks, treatment facilities and well fields. The system will need capacity to distribute up to 200,000 acre-feet of this new local water to the groundwater basins and the filtration plant.

LADWP Manager of Water Resources Delon Kwan speaks to a recent gathering of the Water System Stakeholder Engagement Group. Outreach will be a key part of the success of Operation NEXT. (Photo by Chris Corsmeier)

The necessary infrastructure projects will touch almost every portion of the city from Sylmar to the Harbor area. Towards that end, LADWP expects to begin a programmatic environmental review process under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in early 2021, along with broad community engagement and outreach to increase awareness and understanding of L.A.’s future water needs and Operation NEXT.

“We will build upon the strong relationships and public support gained over more than a decade of concerted community engagement about the city’s need to secure an independent and resilient local water supply for Los Angeles,” said Paul Liu, Manager of Recycled Water and Groundwater Resource Planning, Policy, and Management Section.

Learn More




Charging Forward: LA Tops 10,000 Commercial EV Charging Stations

By Paola Adler

LADWP has met and exceeded its goal of supporting the installation of 10,000 commercial electric vehicle (EV) charging stations throughout the city.

As of January 1, 2021, Los Angeles has an estimated 11,045 commercial charging stations, the most of any city in the United States. L.A.’s extensive charging network provides expanded options for the city’s growing EV community, with an estimated 62,851 EVs currently registered. This milestone was surpassed two years earlier than LADWP’s goal of 10,000 commercial EV charging stations by 2022, outlined by Mayor Eric Garcetti’s 2019 Sustainable City pLAn, also known as the L.A Green New Deal.

“LADWP wants every EV owner in Los Angeles to have convenient, accessible fueling options,” said Nancy Sutley, Senior Assistant General Manager of External and Regulatory Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer. “We have worked diligently alongside public and private partners to install and support a variety of commercial EV charging stations across the city. We are proud to have completed our goal ahead of schedule, and are looking forward to expanding this network even further, especially in underserved communities.”

The city’s commercial EV charging stations include 2,477 that are publicly accessible as well as 8,568 non-public charging stations at workplaces, fleet operations and multi-unit dwellings. Within Los Angeles, there are 10,779 commercial Level 2 charging stations and 266 DC fast chargers (DCFC), which can provide light-duty vehicles with an 80 percent battery charge in 30 minutes and can also be used to support medium- and heavy-duty EVs, such as electric buses.

Charging stations installed at Cal State LA allow students, faculty and staff to save money on fuel while helping reduce carbon emissions. (Photo courtesy of Robert Lopez)

Los Angeles is on track to meet future milestones of 25,000 commercial charging stations by 2025 and 28,000 by 2028, which will support the goal of 500,000 EVs in the city and provide EV infrastructure for the 2028 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. The L.A. Green New Deal also aims for 80 percent electric and zero emission vehicles in the city by 2036 and 100 percent by 2045, and for 100 percent of city and transit fleets to be electrified by 2028. L.A.’s electrification efforts will also support Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order mandating 100 percent of new passenger car sales be zero emission by 2035 and 100 percent of medium and heavy-duty vehicles be zero emission by 2045.

A large portion of charging stations were directly funded by LADWP’s Commercial EV Charging Station Rebate Program, including those located at Cal State LA. “Cal State LA hosts 55 Level 2 EV charging ports, and six DC fast chargers. These charging stations allow students, faculty and staff to save money on fuel while helping reduce carbon emissions in our region,” said Cal State LA Energy & Sustainability Manager Brad Haydel. “All Level 2 charging stations are available for two hours of free charging, and DCFC stations are free for the first hour and 20 cents per minute for the second hour.”

LADWP’s rebate program offers financial incentives to help offset the cost of equipment and installation, up to $4,000 per Level 2 charging station (or up to $5,000 if located in a disadvantaged community), up to $75,000 per DCFC, and up to $125,000 per charging station for medium- and heavy-duty EVs. As of January 1, 2021, LADWP has issued 8,157 rebates to date, with over 60 percent for multi-unit dwellings.

LADWP has installed 44 utility pole-mounted, curbside charging stations across the city, available to the public free of charge to ensure equitable access to charging infrastructure. (Photo by Chris Corsmeier)

Charging stations were installed throughout the city, on public and private properties, by third-party commercial charging station installers and by LADWP and other City of Los Angeles departments. As of January 1, 2021, LADWP has installed 953 commercial EV charging stations, an effort that includes constructing public infrastructure like EV charging plazas and utility pole-mounted chargers. The Department has also installed 15 publicly accessible DCFC stations, including the DCFC at the Los Angeles Zoo, one of the top five most utilized charging stations in North America according to PlugShare.

LADWP’s installations also include its own work locations, which has motivated employees like Stephanie Spicer to dump their gas-fueled vehicles. “Having EV charging stations at work gave me the push I needed to drive electric,” said Spicer, LADWP Community Affairs Manager. “As an LADWP employee, the switch to an electric vehicle made me feel like I’m putting our Department goals into action and making my small but important contribution to a cleaner and greener future for L.A.”

Community Affairs Manager Stephanie Spicer was motivated to switch to an EV because she could fuel up at charging stations installed at LADWP headquarters. (Photo by Chris Corsmeier)

Other City of Los Angeles departments, such as the Bureau of Street Lighting, Los Angeles Department of Transportation, Department of General Services and Los Angeles Public Library, have installed a total of 1,344 charging stations, funded through LADWP’s Commercial EV Charging Station Rebate Program, shared grant funding or direct funding from the Department. “The Los Angeles Public Library takes its role as an environmental steward seriously, and we have significantly advanced our sustainability efforts through an agreement with LADWP to install EV charging stations at libraries around the city,” said City Librarian John F. Szabo. “Currently, 11 branch libraries provide 39 EV charging stations to support the adoption of electric vehicles, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make Los Angeles greener.”

Through an agreement with LADWP, the Los Angeles Public Library has installed 39 commercial EV charging stations at 11 of its branches. (Photo courtesy of Lauren Skinner)

LADWP is continuing to enhance its “Charge Up L.A.!” EV rebate programs, focusing in particular on increasing access to disadvantaged and underserved communities. The Department currently offers an additional $1,000 rebate for eligible commercial Level 2 charging stations installed in underserved communities, and is working on increasing the rebate for income-qualified customers who purchase used EVs. LADWP’s current used EV rebate program provides up to $1,500 toward the purchase of a used battery electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle.

The Department is investing further in publicly-accessible charging infrastructure to support drivers who cannot charge at home or work. In addition to installing DCFC charging plazas throughout Los Angeles, LADWP continues to partner with City departments and third-party installers to deploy additional DCFCs at public facilities and parking lots. The Department is also supporting the Bureau of Street Lighting’s effort to install 450 streetlight EV charging stations across the city.

With EVs becoming increasingly commonplace in Los Angeles, the rapid expansion of charging station infrastructure in the city helps ensure drivers will always have a way to charge up – and may help alleviate concerns about range anxiety and access to charging for those thinking of purchasing an EV. LADWP will continue its commitment to creating and incentivizing convenient, widespread fueling options for L.A.’s EV community.

Learn more: LADWP.com/EV




People standing in front of power station.

Sylmar Converter Station Turns 50

By Christy Holland

Fifty years ago, LADWP celebrated the completion of the 846-mile Pacific DC Intertie (PDCI) and the launch of the Sylmar Converter Station—a state-of-the-art power transmission facility. The Sylmar Converter Station is the southern anchor of the PDCI, which is a high-voltage, direct current transmission power line that originates at the Celilo Converter Station in The Dalles, Oregon. Today, the station has not only withstood the test of time; it remains just as relevant and vital as when it received its first megawatt in 1970.

“When the PDCI was first completed, it was the longest and highest voltage DC line in the United States,” said Robert Fick, Manager, Hydro & Renewable Generation/High Voltage Stations, Power Supply Operations Division. “Nothing of this magnitude had been built before, so there was a lot of risk in taking on a project of this size.”

Power converter station eqipment.

Giant thyristors at Sylmar Converter Station. Photo by Chris Corsmeier

Flash forward 50 years and the PDCI is still the longest DC line in the United States and in North America. While it is no longer the highest voltage DC line, it can boast that its southern anchor, the Sylmar Converter Station, has recently increased its capacity from 3,100 megawatts (MW) to 3,220 MW following a $223 million facility upgrade. This modernization project was designed to extend the facility’s lifespan for 40 more years, ensuring continued reliability of power transmission between the two regions.

Think of the PDCI as a high-voltage electric superhighway and the Sylmar Converter Station as a transfer hub. The station receives high voltage power and then safely and efficiently converts it to AC power for delivery to customers throughout Los Angeles. The PDCI makes it possible to balance the power needs in the west by taking a surplus commodity and sharing it with partners in Southern California, where power supply demands are much greater.

It also helps strengthen LADWP’s path to meeting our
100 percent renewable energy goal by 2050.

“The PDCI was such a pioneering achievement when it was built, and Los Angeles and Southern California still benefit from it today,” said Fick. “Not only does it tie two distinct regions together for greater reliability of the western grid, it also provides access to power from clean hydroelectric and renewable sources.”

The Sylmar Converter Station is maintained and operated by LADWP; partners include Southern California Edison, and the cities of Glendale, Burbank and Pasadena.
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Featured Photo: The Sylmar Converter Station crew. Clockwise from left front: Kenneth Ly, Anthony Juarez, Daniela Lara, Andrew Gonzales, Robert Fick, Jeffrey Lamb, Bryon Harlacher, Michael Lane, Arin Barkhordarian and Gabriel Perez. Photo by Art Mochizuki




power worker on pole

LADWP Helps State Avoid Rolling Blackouts While Keeping Power Flowing for L.A. During Extreme Heat Waves

By Carol Tucker

Amid record-setting temperatures and soaring demand for electricity by sweltering Southland residents, LADWP provided nearly 43,700 megawatt-hours (MWh) of emergency power to state and local grid operators in California in August and September, as well as Arizona in August, to keep the power flowing for over 20 million customers.

Electric customers in Southern California and Arizona benefitted from the foresight of LADWP’s long-term energy planning for redundancy in generation and transmission, and dispatchable power that can be quickly ramped up to meet peak demand.

“It was very gratifying to be able to assist other utilities and help avoid more outages during this heat storm,” said LADWP General Manager and Chief Engineer Marty Adams. For over a century, LADWP has invested in developing and securing its own power generation and transmission resources. “We have always placed reliability first and foremost in our planning, maintenance and operations, even as we transition to a greater mix of renewable energy,” Adams said.

Photo by Chris Corsmeier

Over the Labor Day weekend, LADWP provided an estimated 11,215 MWh of excess power to the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), which operates much of the statewide grid powering communities and cities served by investor-owned utilities. CAISO was forced to declare Stage 2 emergencies on September 5 and 6, which meant power outages were possible due to increased demand and reduced supplies, but the state agency was able to avoid rolling blackouts during the September heat event.

From September 4-7, LADWP supplied emergency power to the municipal utilities of Burbank (550 MWh), Glendale (393 MWh), and Imperial Irrigation District (725 MWh).

Although the state did institute the first rolling blackout since 2001 on August 15, 2020 and to a lesser extent on August 16, 2020, LADWP was fully resourced and able to help CAISO avoid similar impacts. LADWP provided 10,450 MWh to CAISO from August 13-19 – primarily during peak periods in the late afternoon and evening when solar output is reduced, yet demand for electricity to power air conditioning and other customer uses remain high. LADWP also provided 2,755 MWh to Arizona communities served by the Salt River Project after a major transmission line failed, and smaller amounts to Glendale and the Imperial Irrigation District.

LADWP maintains in-basin and out-of-basin power plants, including 34 percent renewable energy, along with a vast transmission system representing 25 percent of the state’s power transmission assets. Like other public utilities in the state, LADWP benefits from being a “vertically integrated” utility, owning its generation, transmission, and distribution, and has not had to initiate rolling blackouts related to lack of power.

LADWP also owns and operates a significant amount of dispatchable power generation, such as the Castaic Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Plant in northern Los Angeles County. Dispatchable power can be ramped up quickly when needed to meet energy needs, especially as the sun goes down and solar power is no longer available.

While dispatchers were busy shipping energy to customers throughout the region and state, electric distribution crews worked around-the-clock to restore power to nearly 110,000 LADWP customers within 24 hours during the record-breaking heat storm over Labor Day weekend. Heat-related equipment failures triggered outages for more than 128,300 out of LADWP’s 1.5 million electric customers. The vast majority, about 85 percent of all affected customers, had their power restored within 24 hours, and about 99 percent were restored within the 48-hour timeframe allowed under a Level 3 storm situation.

Lineman working on transformer

An LADWP lineman works on a transformer during Labor Day heat storm. Photo by Chris Corsmeier

Most of the outages lasting 24 hours or longer were related to equipment failures at the neighborhood level, as distribution equipment became overheated and overloaded. Local distribution stations also overheated, leading to larger circuit outages affecting multiple neighborhoods. In some neighborhoods, equipment was running 200 percent of its maximum capacity due to extreme heat and demand.

“Restoring neighborhood outages affecting groups of five to 20 homes takes our crews much longer than larger circuit level or partial circuit outages, where a single crew may be able to restore power to 500 – 1,000-plus customers in the same amount of time,” said Andy Kendall, Senior Assistant General Manager of Power Construction, Maintenance, and Operations. In contrast, neighborhood outages typically take a single crew four to six hours to restore power to a much smaller group of customers.

To put these numbers in context, LADWP’s system fared much better compared to similar heat events in 2017 and 2018, Power System officials said. In 2017, a total of 317,700 customers experienced power interruptions.

LADWP officials attributed the improvement to aggressive investments in power infrastructure—approximately $3.7 billion from fiscal year 2016-17 through fiscal year 2019-20, with over $1 billion is budgeted this year. Moving forward, LADWP will look at ways to increase replacement targets in the next five years and analyze the impact of climate change on power demand.

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Featured photo by Chris Corsmeier




Students Help LADWP and City Promote Conservation

By Walter Zeisl

For more than 10 years, students in grades 4-12 have helped LADWP and the City of Los Angeles promote good conservation practices and behaviors through colorful and creative art posters as part of the LADWP-Times in Education Program.

In fiscal year 2019-20,182 posters were submitted from schools in the service territory. The Times staff reviewed the posters selecting 79 finalists. A team of nine Department judges from the Communications and Public Affairs Division and Water Conservation Policy in the Water Resources Division evaluated the remaining posters digitally. First- through third-place awards for each grade were selected. From that pool, the overall Grand Prize winner was selected.

This year’s Grand Prize was captured by Jean Lee, a fifth-grade student from St. James Episcopal School. Her winning poster, which appeared in several large Times ads, depicts a whimsical train decorated with drawings related to water and energy conservation themes. The train travels through scenery of wind turbines and a tree with leaves shaped as recycling symbols. The poster features images of “The Drop” taking a five-minute shower on top of the train and controlling the handle of a water faucet. In the train window is a thermostat with a finger pointing to the off switch and the temperature set at 78 degrees.

With COVID-19 “Safer at Home” Emergency Order in place, this year’s judging took place virtually. The Department’s nine judges reviewed and scored the posters digitally, during three rounds (placements, ties, grand prize winner).

In order for students to participate in the contest, their teachers needed to enroll in the free Times in Education Program. Participating teachers received three guides, access to the Times digital edition, two Department conservation checklists and additional information.

The teachers’ guides, also available on the LADWP website, cover most Department related topics such as history, supply sources, renewable energy, conservation and utility careers. The guides are written using the newspaper as a living textbook.

According to the Times, the program reached 90,000 students in 2019-20. This is the Department’s largest education outreach program.