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.”




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!

 




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.




LADWP Veteran Marty Adams Takes the Reins of LADWP

 

By Carol Tucker

For the first time in 25 years, a new general manager has been appointed from within the ranks of LADWP.

Marty Adams after being sworn in as LADWP’s General Manager and Chief Engineer.

Martin L. Adams, a 35-year veteran of the Department, was nominated by Mayor Eric Garcetti in June to the Department’s top job, and appointed interim General Manager and Chief Engineer July 23 by the Board of Water and Power Commissioners. He was confirmed by the City Council on September 13, 2019.

“My heart and soul are in the Department,” Adams said during his confirmation hearing. “I have been dedicated to this organization for 35 years. I am as invested in its success, and the success of its employees as anybody could be.”

Adams is the first permanent general manager appointed to the position from inside LADWP since Daniel W. Waters, a long-time Power System manager, ran the Department from 1990 to 1994.

Adams said that coming from inside the Department will provide a strategic advantage that will benefit LADWP and its customers. “I have a tremendous sense for what works and what doesn’t at the Department. I have a great sense for the people who surround me, their capabilities, and what drives them. I have also spent 16 years in operations, so I know what makes things work in the field, what makes our employees tick, and what issues affect them positively or negatively.”

Besides being the first person appointed from within the ranks to lead the Department in decades, Adams is also the first in a generation to adopt the title of “General Manager and Chief Engineer.” Adams asked to have the original working title restored. “It meant a lot to me personally. I believe it meant a lot to folks in the Department,” he said. “It also resonates with the fact that the Department is a very technical organization. The title reminds us, as we blaze into the future, that we need to manage and harness technology so we can continue to serve the public.”

In a message to employees, Adams said, “There are many challenges ahead of us to tackle, along with great opportunities to lead and influence the industry as we make DWP the best public utility in the nation and the choice place to work.”

LADWP has been at the core of the city’s existence, and its ability to grow and thrive. “I believe our (LADWP’s) importance moving forward is every bit as critical today as it was historically—100-plus years ago—when we were building the Aqueduct and growing our Power System.”  Moving forward, he said the Mayor has asked us to take a hard look at reducing reliance on imported water resources. “We learned through the drought that while imported water resources are an important part of the mix, relying on them for so much of our water supply is a failed policy,” he said.

There are equally tremendous challenges on the power side. The Mayor has set an aggressive timetable that will make the city a leader in fighting climate change. “When you’re in a leadership position, you have a strong obligation to set a good example and be successful. If we fail it will be very hard to convince the rest of the state, country or world there are things that can be done to change the energy industry to reduce impacts on climate.

“So we have to succeed, and succeed in a very smart way. Right now we are planning that path forward. We need to make sure everyone is in alignment. The end goal is clear – how you get there, and doing so in a meaningful way, is the entire battle.”

On both water and power fronts, Adams believes the goals are achievable and that LADWP’s talented employees will get the job done. “I think by pulling together we’ll get to exactly where need to be, and I think we will do it in a very good way.”

 




Line Workers and Pilots Partner in Mid-Air to Service LADWP Transmission Lines

By Paola Adler

LADWP line workers have traditionally served as the stewards of the Department’s overhead transmission lines, some of which span hundreds of miles. Thanks to a new program, five foremen and 27 line patrol mechanics will start working with a new partner – five pilots from LADWP’s Fleet Services Division. The LADWP Overhead Transmission Human External Cargo (HEC) Program officially certified all 37 participants on January 24, 2019 after three months of training procedures.

Helicopters and pilots assisting with overhead power transmission work is not new to the Department, as they are currently used for visual inspections, patrols and to transport tools to job sites and towers (known as short haul). With the new program, however, helicopters will be able to carry line workers from the ground onto a transmission structure or wire using an external line descending below the aircraft. Incorporating this practice helps line workers access hard to reach areas and creates a safer work environment by reducing climbing, increasing productivity.

Line workers use head and hand signals to communicate with pilots. (Photo by Chris Corsmeier)

“There are so many benefits for our transmission workers,” said Metro Patrol Area Foreman Jim Schultz, a program participant. “It greatly reduces the time needed to position our crews, which generally reduces risk. Fatigue is minimized by eliminating the need to climb towers with mandated climbing restrictions, and we also gain access to tower locations that have been inaccessible due to weather and environmental issues.”

This practice is common at many other utilities. LADWP’s combination of in-house staff and resources, experience with helicopter transmission work and relationships with other utilities allowed the Department to create a program efficiently and cost-effectively in just three years. In addition to the Overhead Transmission and Fleet Services Aviation teams, the program was developed in partnership with Power System Safety, IBEW Local 18 and the Joint Training and Joint Safety Institutes.

Participants completed their certification with help from external trainers from Air Rescue Systems. From November 2018 through January 2019, employees from different job classifications learned to collaborate together through classroom sessions and practical exercises on transmission towers at the Truesdale Training Center. Training included helicopter safety, short haul procedures and work practices, and “up and out” tower rescue operations.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to train alongside our line workers to build teamwork, trust and morale. The training helped us create synergy on the job and improve safety while relying on each other to conduct precision work without errors,” said Jeff Goldman, a participating LADWP helicopter pilot. “The Department is constantly evolving; it is very fulfilling to contribute to that evolution.”

The 37 employees participating in the new program included 4 pilots, 1 chief pilot, 5 foremen and 27 line patrol mechanics. (Photo by Skip Robinson)




Hydrographers Feel Sense of History

Season’s Snowpack Weighs In at Second Wettest in Five Years

By Jessica Johnson

Record rains across the state and plenty of snow in the mountains helped boost the Eastern Sierra snowpack to reach LADWP’s final measurement on April 1, 2019 to 171 percent – an astounding number when you consider at this same time last year, it was a registering 66 percent, and in 2017, 203 percent of normal.

Being the second wettest year in the last five years, LADWP water operations are better prepared to deal with the influx in water than in 2017, such as preparing the spreading grounds for snow melt as early as possible.

In order to obtain the snowpack amounts and level of preparation needed, LADWP hydrographers conduct snow surveys from January to April. Each spring the final snowpack and Mono Lake water elevations are measured and analyzed to help determine runoff and water supply projections for the LA Aqueduct System.

This past winter Intake joined one of the Rock Creek Basin snow surveys with LADWP hydrographers. LADWP has measured the same 12 courses located in four major watershed basins since the 1920s. The courses are located at varying elevations between 8,000 and 11,000 feet, and include the Cottonwood Lakes Basin, Big Pine Canyon, Rock Creek Canyon, and the Mammoth Lakes Basin. The sites were selected because they accurately represent overall snowpack and precipitation conditions at specific areas and elevations.

Starting just above Rock Creek Lake at the highest point of approximately 10,700 feet, we worked our way down the canyon, stopping at snow courses that were each around 1,000 feet long and included up to 10 measuring points.

 

Senior Hydrographer Bruce Peterson holds aluminum tube used for taking snow core samples.

As LADWP Senior Hydrographer Bruce Peterson recorded the weight of water content from one sample, he said, “this work is way different than other positions at the Department. There is a sense of history and tradition; we are still doing surveys using the same standardized methods, equipment, and at very similar locations as hydrographers 100 years ago did,” said Peterson, who has been working for the Department for 12 years.

Unlike years ago, hydrographers no longer need to rely on dog teams or pack mules to enter the back country of the Eastern Sierra. But they do utilize snow cats, snowmobiles, snowshoes, and even skis to traverse the remote areas where the snowpack surveys are conducted.

One of the most famous LADWP hydrographers was Dave McCoy, who founded and ran Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. A hydrographer in the 1940s and an avid skier, McCoy figured out that Mammoth Mountain received the most reliable amount of snowfall. In 1945, McCoy obtained the rights from the U.S. Forest Service to build a permanent rope tow on Mammoth Mountain. Armed with his knowledge of snowpack and snowfall patterns, McCoy developed the mountain as a major ski resort.

“As a kid growing up in the Eastern Sierra the hydrographer job is kind of a dream job. To actually have the job now is pretty cool,” reflected LADWP Hydrogapher Chad Galvin as he shook a snow core sample from the aluminum tube used to measure water content.

Many important decisions depend upon accurate water supply forecasting. Determining how much water to purchase to augment the Eastern Sierra supply as well as make decisions about customer needs, water supply irrigation, reservoir storage, environmental obligations, and hydroelectric generation in the Owens Valley all rely on the data from snowpack surveys.

Once back at the office, the hydrographers input data collected from each snow survey, combine it with rainfall and stream flow measurements into a computer model that helps forecast the next year’s water supply from Eastern Sierra snowmelt, explained Steve Rich, a senior hydrographer who has worked on close to 30 snow surveys for the Department.

Dave McCoy, founder of Mammoth Mountain, was one of LADWP’s most famous hydrographers.

Based on the 2019 final snowpack survey, approximately 114 billion gallons of water will be used in the Mono Basin and Inyo County to meet environmental commitments and operational needs. LADWP has taken active measures to prepare for the arrival of the anticipated high water runoff resulting from this year’s very wet winter, and the LA Aqueduct system will flow at or near full capacity.

This means in the following 12-month period, the LA Aqueduct is expected to provide approximately 119 billion gallons of water, that meet an estimated 70 percent of L.A.’s overall water demand supplying more than 1 million single family homes. To put things into perspective, in an average snowpack year, the LA Aqueduct provides about half of LA’s total water supply.

A recent announcement by Mayor Eric Garcetti that LA will recycle 100 percent of its wastewater by 2035 offers the potential for LADWP to reliably source up to 70 percent of its water sustainably and locally instead of depending significantly on imported water. Having a lucrative water year is a positive for LADWP’s ability to secure a sustainable water future for L.A.

As winter gives way to spring and summer, the melting snow supplies vital water flows that fill the many creeks and lakes in the area.

“With the above-normal precipitation after April 1st leading to a higher-than forecasted runoff, we will be very busy in northern district water operations charting and reporting water flows, measuring water levels at reservoirs, creeks, wells, checking weather patterns, and preparing the aqueduct system for the runoff,” said Rich.

Visit www.ladwp.com/aqueduct to learn more about LADWP’s water policies and projects in the Eastern Sierra.

Watch Snowpack Survey Video

Snowpillow Data




Q & A with LADWP’s Chief Sustainability Officer

Nancy Sutley Discusses LADWP and L.A.’s Green New Deal

By Carol Tucker

In April 2019, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced L.A.’s Green New Deal, an update of the Sustainable City pLAn that sets aggressive new goals for the city’s sustainable future. The plan envisions a carbon neutral city by 2050 by zeroing out key sources of emissions—buildings, transportation, electricity and trash. It also calls for recycling 100% of the city’s wastewater and sourcing 70% of our water locally by 2035.

Many of the plan’s new goals and targets revolve around LADWP or rely on the Department for support.  As Chief Sustainability Officer, Nancy Sutley plays a central role in LADWP’s efforts to meet the Green New Deal targets. Nancy oversees regulatory compliance of greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency goals and programs, transportation electrification, building electrification and other sustainability initiatives. She also collaborates closely with water and power staff on sustainability goals related to renewable energy, water supply and water conservation.

In the following interview, Nancy offers her perspective on the Green New Deal, what it means for LADWP and the challenges that lie ahead.

Describe the Mayor’s vision as outlined in the Green New Deal – 2019 Sustainable City pLAn?

The Green New Deal builds upon the city’s first Sustainability pLAn from 2015. Like the first plan, it takes a broad view around sustainability. It isn’t just focused on environmental issues, but it’s also about the economy and about equity. It looks at how the city’s environmental policies affect people in Los Angeles beyond whether the air is cleaner and water safer, but really what does it mean for quality of life, jobs and how we interact with each other.

What aspects of the plan will affect LADWP’s planning and operations going forward?

Climate change is a big focus in the Green New Deal with the overarching goal for the city to become carbon neutral by 2050. The plan starts with that goal, talks about what that means and how we achieve that. That includes some big pieces, and many of them involve LADWP—how we produce energy, along with electrification of buildings and transportation. LADWP has a big role to play in all of those. These are areas LADWP has already been working on—renewable energy, reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and helping to promote electric vehicles.

The plan also has a big focus on the water side—water conservation and the local water supply, such as recycled water and stormwater capture. Also what’s important for LADWP and city government is walking the talk. We have a big impact on how the rest of L.A. can demonstrate leadership, such as helping the Police Department with their electric vehicles and the Port with their clean air action plan.

Is this the first Sustainable City pLAn to set a citywide target for zero carbon?

It’s been discussed over the past two years that LA should be carbon neutral by 2050 but there were questions about what it means and how to achieve that. So this plan tries to layout all those pieces systematically. Instead of recounting what’s been done, this plan starts with the goal and looks at what we need to do to get there. It’s not necessarily new programs for LADWP, but it in many cases it means accelerating or expanding our targets.

What are some of the new targets that will affect LADWP?

Renewable energy is a good example. We have state mandated goals and legislation, SB 100, that calls for 100% clean energy by 2045 and 60% renewables by 2030. The Green New Deal accelerates some of the targets, such as 55% renewable energy by 2025 and 80% by 2036. (The most recent Power Strategic Long-Term Resource Plan target was 65% by 2036 and LADWP was looking to raise that to 70% by 2036).

Does the Green New Deal include new or accelerated targets for L.A.’s local water supply?

Compared to the 2015 pLAn, the Green New Deal has a bigger focus on local water by considering how climate change has impacted the water levels relative to the cycles of drought and wet, then drought and wet again. The Green New Deal is calling for 70% local water supply, capturing 150,000 acre feet/year of stormwater, and recycling 100% of wastewater by 2035.

With your science and water policy background, would you attribute those year-by-year hydrological fluctuations to climate change?

California does these periodic climate assessments, looking at global models and trying to scale them down for California. A lot of what we’ve seen in terms of climate variability is consistent with what the models say. For L.A., we store our water in the snowpack and all the climate change models say we’re going to have warmer, wetter winters. That’s a very different model than we’ve been used to. A lot of the current water policies reflect what LADWP has been doing for decades—viewing water conservation as a way of life, even when there isn’t a drought, as well as capturing rain when it does fall and then reusing what water we can reuse.

That relates back to the Mayor’s announcement in February—recycling 100% of all wastewater by 2035, with a focus on expanding the recycled wastewater capabilities at the Hyperion Wastewater Treatment Plan. What are some of the big issues involved with that goal?

One issue is the public’s view of recycled wastewater has changed a lot in past 15 to 20 years but that’s still a work in progress, especially regarding groundwater recharge. (Groundwater recharge, also known as groundwater replenishment, is the process of injecting advanced treated wastewater into the groundwater basin.) Also we have a lot invested in existing infrastructure that was built for a different reality. So we have to think about what strategic investments will allow us to make this transition.

The Green New Deal sets aggressive goals for developing more stormwater projects. What are the challenges of expanding the capture and reuse of stormwater runoff?

Stormwater capture is a very important goal and strategy for improving our local water supply, but how you do you actually do that in a fully built-out city, and given that we have a whole flood control system designed to move stormwater as quickly as possible away from people? Now we’re saying wait – we need to slow down.

Cities that have done this successfully look at all scales. Historically, we tend to focus on doing big projects. Now we are looking at more regional projects such as the green streets, and even at individual homeowner level. Offering rebates for residents to use rain barrels, for example, is a start.

Also, when it comes to stormwater we have to consider the water quality piece. There isn’t a lot of water supply benefit to capturing stormwater in certain areas where we can’t use the groundwater basin. So the planning has to work these two elements together.

Are there any new focus areas for LADWP as a result of the Green New Deal?

The plan puts a lot of focus on building electrification, which is viewed as a high potential for carbon reduction. We have started to track progress in building electrification and understanding potential opportunities for new incentives. The challenge with decarbonizing buildings is how to deal with existing buildings.

There is also more emphasis on workforce development in this plan – training the next generation of workers for jobs in green industries.

I think the plan presents a lot of challenges for the Department, especially with many accelerated targets. But LADWP has always risen up to meet challenges. People in Los Angeles are counting on us to get it done.




Leading the Fight Against Climate Change

Creating a Clean Grid and an Independent Water Source for L.A.

By Carol Tucker

Demonstrating leadership in the fight against climate change, LADWP has accelerated its goals for reducing carbon from its power system and creating a more resilient and sustainable water supply that will be less susceptible to recurrent droughts.

During press conferences earlier this year, LADWP officials joined Mayor Eric Garcetti, members of the City Council, environmental leaders and community representatives, in announcing two game-changing initiatives that mark powerful steps forward to securing water independence and 100% clean energy for Los Angeles.

On February 12, 2019, LADWP announced it will not repower the existing ocean-cooled generating units at its three natural gas coastal power plants—Scattergood, Haynes and Harbor Generating Stations. Instead, LADWP will determine a viable path forward using clean energy alternatives, working through the 100% Renewable Energy Study (LA100) now underway. The goal is to achieve a carbon neutral power supply by 2050, while continuing to serve reliable power to our customers.

“L.A.’s local generation and transmission system was built in a different time and has served the city well. But now it’s time to re-imagine and reconfigure it. Our intention is to maintain reliability and affordability while we transition away from reliance on natural gas as quickly as possible,” said Mel Levine, president of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners, during the press conference.

The new power initiative, Clean Grid L.A., will require a concerted team effort from staff across the Department to embark on a new path forward.  Over the next year, the Power System, Office of Sustainability and other divisions will work collaboratively with the Mayor and City Council offices, the 100% Renewable Energy Study (LA100) Advisory Committee, energy technology experts and other stakeholders to develop a detailed and comprehensive plan.

Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant

Recycling 100% of City Wastewater

To build a more resilient water supply in the face of climate change, Mayor Garcetti, Councilmember Mike Bonin, LADWP and the Department of Public Works – Bureau of Sanitation (BOS) announced a regional, multi-agency effort to recycle 100% of the city’s wastewater supply by 2035. The plan will help achieve local water supply goals, including reducing imported water by 50% by 2025 and sourcing 70% of the city’s water locally by 2035.

LADWP is working with the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD) and BOS to maximize the amount of recycled water produced at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant. The main components of the project include developing an advanced treatment facility and building the infrastructure to convey and replenish groundwater basins south of the Santa Monica Mountains with highly purified wastewater. Over time, the water will naturally purify as it percolates into the aquifer. From there, it would eventually be pumped out and treated to drinking water quality to augment the water supply.

“With the city committing to 100 percent recycled water at all four treatment facilities by 2035, LADWP will be able to source up to 70% of its water sustainably and locally.” said General Manager David H. Wright. “This announcement is a game changer when it comes to securing L.A.’s water future.”

The accelerated targets for a decarbonized grid and resilient local water supply are codified in L.A.’s Green New Deal – the 2019 Sustainable City pLAn announced by the Mayor in April.

LADWP teams from water and power with support for IT, Sustainability, Financial Services, and Communications, Media and Community Affairs are working closely with the Mayor’s office and City Councilmember offices to quickly convert the accelerated goals into concrete plans.

“Sometimes it takes a village. In this case, it will take everyone at LADWP working together to achieve new goals that will propel Los Angeles toward a more sustainable water supply and a clean energy future,” Wright said.




Preparing for the Big One with Biggest Earthquake-Proof Trunk Line

Construction Well Under Way on Major Water Pipeline Infrastructure Project in Northeast San Fernando Valley to Improve Water Reliability and Quality

By Albert Rodriguez
Communications, Media and Community Affairs

Over a century of faithfully delivering water and power requires major investment in replacing aging infrastructure to ensure reliability in light of evolving regulations, technology and the ever present threat of a natural disaster. That’s why LADWP is currently constructing the Foothill Trunk Line Unit 3, considered the longest, large-diameter earthquake resistant pipeline project in the nation. Situated in the Pacoima and Sylmar area, this $105 million project began construction in 2016 and is replacing a 1930s era, three-mile stretch of 24 to 36-inch pipeline along Foothill Boulevard.

Photo by Art Mochizuki

Trunk lines are supply pipelines greater than 20 inches in diameter that comprise the major arteries of the city’s important water delivery system. The trunk line along Foothill Boulevard transports water to the Sunland/Tujunga area of Los Angeles that spans a very significant and complex fault line that ruptured during the 1971 San Fernando Earthquake. By upgrading and increasing the size of the pipeline, this project will improve capacity, system flexibility and reliability in the event of another fault rupture.

Water Service Reliability

“The Foothill project is part of the Water System’s 10-Year Capital Improvement Program to maintain or replace existing infrastructure and construct new facilities with the latest materials and technology,” said Richard Harasick, LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager – Water System. “Thanks to funding provided by the rate changes enacted in 2016, the Foothill Trunk Line ensures that LADWP fulfills its mission to provide reliable, high quality water to our customers for decades to come.”

The majority of the new revenues are earmarked for infrastructure improvements and water quality projects, including those required to meet water quality standards and for Owens Valley dust mitigation measures. The remaining new revenues will go toward expanding the local water supply, which includes recycled water, stormwater capture, and groundwater remediation.

Flexing Iron

Construction on Foothill includes four miles of earthquake resistant ductile iron pipe (ERDIP) – two miles of 54-inch diameter transmission trunk line and two miles of 12-inch diameter ERDIP distribution line installed in parallel from Paxton Street to Hubbard Street. The ERDIP pipe used in the project is provided by the Kubota Corporation of Tokyo, Japan, which pioneered the technology. Kubota has been supplying earthquake resistant ductile iron pipes to construction projects for nearly 45 years. The patented pipe is segmented, much like a chain, able to accommodate seismic forces and movement by expanding, contracting and flexing to absorb ground movement without leaking or rupturing. It allows 1 percent axial movement in tension and compression and up to eight degrees of rotation.

Prior to the Foothill Trunk Line project, LADWP had implemented an earthquake pipe pilot project at five other locations throughout the city’s vast water system. A total of 2.5 miles (13,600 feet) of ERDIP was installed in the East Valley, West Valley, Central, Western and Harbor areas of the city. One of those early projects was strategically installed near Northridge Hospital, taking into consideration its proximity to the 1994 Northridge Earthquake epicenter. The end goal is to install a total of 14 miles of earthquake resistant pipe by 2020 as part of a seismic resilient pipe network throughout the city.

Photo by Art Mochizuki

Safety Best Practices

Construction on the Foothill project has presented many challenges that have been handled effectively and safely by our construction crews. The three-mile construction route begins on Terra Bella Street in Pacoima and continues northwest on Foothill Boulevard to Hubbard Street in Sylmar. Construction is divided into 19 distinct work areas. Each work area is approximately 700 to 1,200 feet in length and construction duration ranges between four and ten months. In order to ensure the safety of the public and construction crews, temporary lane reductions and parking restrictions near the work areas were required. A launching pit and receiving pit were placed on both sides of major intersections in order to install the pipe underground, allowing for the continuous flow of cross traffic at major intersecting streets. To minimize impacts to the community, a new 12-inch diameter distribution water mainline was installed alongside the 54-inch diameter pipeline in the same trench. The new mainline separated the water serving the local community from the new pipeline transporting large amounts of water to the Sunland/Tujunga area.

“We have carried out construction in carefully sequenced phases so as not to disrupt the many businesses lining the street,” said Clemente Valdovinos, civil engineering associate and construction engineer for the Foothill Trunk Line Unit 3 Project. “Our in-house Trunk Line Construction crew has been doing an incredible job, quickly learning and understanding the logistics of earthquake resistant ductile iron pipe installation while keeping the project on schedule.”

Open trench construction will continue through 2021, with tunneling is scheduled from 2020 through 2024. With approximately 500 miles of trunk lines in the water system, it’s no easy task balancing the long-term infrastructure needs of the Water System with the immediate needs of the community. With aging infrastructure and reliability challenges imminent, LADWP must and will take the necessary steps required in order to continue providing the best possible water service to our customers. The crews working on the Foothill Trunk Line today are laying the groundwork and modeling the best practices for successful future projects to come.

(Featured photo by Art Mochizuki)

Learn More

Foothill Trunk Line Project




Beacon of Light: Solar Plant Shines in Mojave Desert

First Grid-Scale Battery Gets Connected at Solar Facility

By Carol Tucker
Communications, Media and Community Affairs

LADWP’s first utility-scale solar-plus-battery system is shining brightly in the Mojave Desert. As the Beacon Solar Plant converts the sun’s rays to 250 megawatts (MW) of solar power for Los Angeles, the Beacon Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) is working in tandem to ensure a reliable flow of this clean, sustainable energy resource to the city’s residents and businesses.

Steve Taylor, Sr. Electrical Craft Helper, works on solar array. (Photo by Chris Corsmeier)

The Beacon Solar Plant, located just north of Cantil, Calif., is a state-of-the art solar power facility featuring 903,434 panels on single-axis trackers that follow the sun in the early morning and late afternoon hours for maximum operational efficiency. When operating at full capacity, Beacon produces enough renewable solar energy to serve 102,667 Los Angeles homes, and offset emissions of about 313,311 metric tons of CO2 annually from fossil fuel power plants. That amount of avoided greenhouse gas emissions is like removing 67,117 gas-fueled vehicles from highway every year.  The plant was fully energized in December 2017.

Beacon Battery Fast-Tracked

The Beacon BESS, which was fast-tracked and commissioned in October 2018, is able to store over 20 MW of renewable energy, running at full power for 30 minutes. Its main function is to stabilize and regulate solar voltage levels, which fluctuate because of cloud cover, to smooth the interconnection with LADWP’s nearby switching station and transmission highway. Essentially, this enhances the reliability of the solar power flowing to L.A. along the LADWP’s Barren Ridge Renewable Transmission Project (BRRTP) from the Mojave Desert to the terminus in Sylmar. From there the energy is distributed throughout the city. The BESS can also store up solar power for use later in the day to help meet peak demand.

“The Mojave Desert averages 260 days a year of sunshine, but the sun doesn’t shine all day. We need to provide reliable, affordable electricity to our customers 24/7/365,” said Reiko Kerr, Senior Assistant General Manager of Power System Engineering, Planning and Technical Services. “The Beacon BESS helps keep the power on sustainably and cleanly, working in tandem with the Beacon Solar Power Plant and our ever growing portfolio of grid-scale renewables projects to maintain capacity.”

The Beacon BESS now stabilizes and stores energy from Beacon Solar Plant in the Mojave Desert. (Photo by Chris Corsmeier)

In addition to Beacon, LADWP has power purchase agreements for solar generated by the 260 MW Springbok Solar Projects 1 and 2, and the 60 MW RE Cinco Solar Project, all completed in 2016. Construction is underway on a third phase of Springbok, which will generate 90 MW when completed in early 2019. Adding to the robust renewable resources, LADWP continues to own and operate its 135 MW Pine Tree Wind Farm and 8.5 MW Pine Tree Solar Plant in the nearby Tehachapi Mountains.

Andrew C. Kendall, Senior Assistant General Manager of Power System Construction, Maintenance and Operations, praised LADWP crews for designing and constructing all of the electrical infrastructure work on time and within budget. “We worked closely with the developers to get the interconnections done and successfully complete test phases with the Energy Control Center to bring this solar power smoothly into our system,” Kendall said.

Reliability Challenge

As LADWP seeks to bring more renewable energy onto the electrical grid, one of the hottest issues is how to continue providing reliable electric service to customers, especially during late afternoon and early evening when energy use rises and darkness falls.

Renewable Energy Rising:
LADWP is on track to meet the next state legislated renewable portfolio standard (RPS) targets of 33 percent by 2020 and 60 percent by 2030. Looking forward, LADWP is studying raising that target further—to 70 percent by 2036—under the Department’s accelerated greenhouse gas reduction plan.

“We bring electricity to our customers 24/7. Solar obviously gathers energy during the daylight only. That means we have to put something in place that helps close the gap, especially during those peak hours,” said Tom Honles, Manager of Major Solar Transmission and Distribution Projects. “That’s why we’re looking at energy storage.”

Typically, the gap created when solar panels stop producing power as the sun sets, and energy demand peaks beginning in late afternoon, is mostly bridged by efficient use of natural gas fuel at LADWP’s in-basin generating stations. These natural gas generators are designed to provide “dispatchable” power that can ramp up quickly and maintain reliability.

However, as LADWP works to reduce fossil fuel power, the Department is developing new battery energy storage projects to offset the need for natural gas generation. Whenever a large amount of solar energy is placed on the grid, the natural fluctuations of solar can create issues with grid electrical stability.

Siting the BESS next to the Beacon Solar Plant helps address those issues in three ways, Honles said. “First, the BESS is a powerful means of keeping the electrical frequency steady, and complying with standards set by the federal government. Second, it will store energy, so we can put that solar onto our grid when the sun is not shining. Third, it will help us to control voltage levels on the transmission lines connecting the solar facilities to Los Angeles, increasing reliability,” Honles said.

The Beacon BESS will help LADWP meet its target of 178 MW of new energy storage by 2021, as set forth in AB 2514, which allows local governing bodies, such as the Los Angeles City Council and the Board of Water and Power Commissioners, to establish energy storage targets for their public power utility.

(Photo by Chris Corsmeier)




LADWP’s La Kretz Innovation Campus: Meet the Cleantech Future of Water and Power

By Christina Holland
Communications, Media and Community Affairs

When you think of Downtown Los Angeles, what comes to mind? Innovation? Clean technology? L.A.’s green economy? Probably not, but it should.

More than eight years ago, in what was once a neglected part of Los Angeles, a four-mile strip of industrial-zoned business development was emerging along the Los Angeles River, and it was nicknamed the Cleantech Corridor. While it may not have achieved the status of a second Silicon Valley, a cleantech vibe is most certainly developing in what is now considered the Downtown Arts District.

The La Kretz Innovation Campus, located in the downtown Los Angeles Arts District, is home to the one of the world’s leading Cleantech incubators and LADWP’s Customer Engagement Lab and Sustainable Living Lab.

At its hub, you’ll find LADWP’s La Kretz Innovation Campus (LKIC), named after Morton La Kretz, a local real estate developer whose philanthropic efforts helped launch the campus. La Kretz is home to LADWP’s Sustainable Living and Customer Engagement Labs, and the LA Cleantech Incubator (LACI), a place where entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and policymakers can collaborate, promote, and support the development of clean technologies and L.A.’s green economy.

Officially launched in October of 2016, LKIC is already making its mark locally and around the globe. For starters, it is the first facility of its kind in which an incubator is housed in the same building as the R&D labs of a major utility. Then, you have the building itself. Originally a furniture manufacturing warehouse, the building’s refurbishment plan was carefully orchestrated so it could stand as an example of best practices for other builders who are committed clean technology and a green economy.

Sustainable Energy & Water Features

“The La Kretz Innovation Campus has some unique features that help it qualify for the LEED Silver distinction. But we wanted more than that, so our Efficiency Solutions Engineering Team stepped in to add a few additional emerging tech features, such as a greywater system and a microgrid to help the facility apply for the highest LEED status,” said Terry Brungard, LADWP Efficiency Solutions engineering supervisor and project team leader. LEED provides the world’s premier green building rating system and certifies buildings on based on resource efficiency. “Now, not only are we on track for LEED’s Platinum rating, we have a building for future innovators, a living demonstration lab where every part is a learning experience,” Brungard added.

Brungard isn’t exaggerating. Even the parking lot educates visitors with its low-profile bioswale collecting run-off water and solar panels generating up to 1,000 kilowatt-hours per day. Enter the building and it just keeps going.

The beautiful reception area is equipped with the obligatory comfy seats and charging outlets, but it has something most lobbies don’t: a living wall–a daily reminder that La Kretz is all about ensuring a sustainable future.

Microgrid

Continue through to the Sustainable Living Lab and you’ll run into LADWP’s microgrid, a small on-site energy control system that manages the Battery Energy Storage System (BESS), the use of grid supplied power and the use of the on-site solar power, which is a distributed energy resource. The microgrid at La Kretz is powered by the city’s electric grid and from its onsite 175 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system, which generates clean, renewable energy while also charging the energy storage system located within the facility.

Ultimately, this framework provides economic benefits by using stored energy and solar energy to reduce the campus’s demand on the L.A. power grid. The microgrid’s BESS project is also a test case to determine the reliability, safety and cost-effectiveness of energy storage systems, working together with solar, for future use in the larger citywide power grid. Recently, the La Kretz microgrid was recognized as a 2017 Project Excellence Award winner by the National Electrical Contractors Association.

Case Study Home

Next door to the microgrid is LADWP’s Case Study Home, a hands-on experience featuring some of the latest appliances and technologies available to consumers. Visitors can use the refrigerator’s touch screen for fun as well as for practical purposes. Need some mood music for a small dinner party or the score from today’s game? This fridge has an app for that. Need help managing your food budget? Do you ever buy too much or toss spoiled food? Your fridge has an app for that too.

Without even opening the door, you can take advantage of your smart fridge’s features to keep track of what food you have in stock and what is about to spoil, then sync it all to your phone. Not only does this save time and money, it saves energy by cutting down on the number of times you open the fridge’s door.

Continue touring the Case Study Home and you’ll start thinking about how to morph your own place into the home of the future. Among other things, you’ll see a dimmable skylight and a smart thermostat you can control from anywhere on the planet. You’ll see that in a smart home, everything is connected. In the age of the “internet of things,” all kinds of smart devices are connected in cyberspace and you can easily control them all through an app on your phone.

“The Department is looking at all smart technologies, meaning Wi-Fi connected, that allow our customers to control their appliances remotely so they can save on their water and power usage even when they aren’t home,” said Dale Thompson, Efficiency Solutions engineering supervisor. “But smart devices can have a wider application and benefit. For example, with a customer’s prior consent, the Department will one day be able to help manage a resident’s energy load by simply sending a control signal to shut off certain large appliances during periods of high energy demand. He added, “One smart home can serve as a learning tool. Thousands of smart homes could be a real asset to our distribution system.”

(From Left) Dale Thompson, Mark Fernandes, and James Kemper of Efficiency Solutions Engineering Group and La Kretz Labs worked closely on designing the Case Study Home, researching and installing its energy efficient, high-tech measures.

All of this is happening in just half of the cleantech campus. Walk across the hall to the LACI side of campus and you’ll be among the 42 active portfolio companies who are hard at work developing, nurturing, and releasing to market their cleantech innovations. Residing under the same roof as the nation’s largest municipal utility gives these startups an opportunity to demo their wares to LADWP staff who can evaluate their future applications and relevance for the Department and our customers.

Recognized as one of the most innovative business incubators in the world by UBI Global, a Swedish-based data and advisory firm specializing in mapping and highlighting the world of business incubation, LACI identifies local entrepreneurs across multiple cleantech business sectors and guides them to market, creating jobs that advance L.A.’s green economy. In just five years, LACI has helped 67 companies raise $135 million in funding, created 1,500 jobs, and delivered more than $335 million in long term economic value for the city of Los Angeles.

(Top photo by Art Mochizuki)

Learn More or Schedule a Tour

La Kretz Innovation Campus