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 to learn more about LADWP’s water policies and projects in the Eastern Sierra.

Watch Snowpack Survey Video

Snow Pillow 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.


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)

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La Kretz Innovation Campus