Electric Line Crews Connected 80 Navajo Nation Homes to the Grid During Mutual Aid Training Exercise

By Carol Tucker

LADWP electric line crews helped connect about 80 families of the Navajo Nation to the electric grid–many for the first time in their lives–while participating in a mutual aid training exercise with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) in rural and rugged parts of New Mexico.

More than 40 LADWP electrical distribution mechanics, supervisors and helpers were deployed to travel to Navajo Nation land near Four Corners, New Mexico from November 12 through December 22, 2021 to participate in the training program. The crews gained valuable experience working in challenging conditions, including in adverse weather and isolated locations for 10-hour days to finish the projects. The biggest job was an extensive community powerline project in Chilchinbeto, Arizona that was 10 miles long, required installing 150 power poles, and powered up 20 homes.

“This mutual aid training exercise and the benefits far exceeded our expectations,” said Brian Wilbur, Senior Assistant General Manager of Power System Construction, Maintenance, and Operations at LADWP. “In this simulation we were able to deploy vehicles, personnel, and equipment to a remote location to perform restoration and infrastructure work over rugged terrain in harsh conditions. The challenges, pitfalls, and victories of this complete deployment is something we have not been able to examine when we do our typical tabletop training simulations,” he said.

Beyond the work itself, the interaction with the people of the Navajo Nation brought rewards that everyone involved will remember.

“Our crews were welcomed at every turn with incredible hospitality and appreciation for the work they were doing,” Wilbur said. “This project was a great success in accomplishing the goals of both utilities, but the warmth and appreciation of the families that were connected will have a lasting impression on everyone involved.”

LADWP crews trained for long hours to help connect Navajo Nation homes to the grid.

Walter Rodriguez, Director of Power Transmission and Distribution, recalled meeting a woman who was 70-years-old and had waited her entire life for electricity. “Our crews were installing new poles and lines in this vast area where the homes are miles apart,” Rodriguez said.

LADWP’s participation in the mutual aid program created mutual respect between the two utilities.

“Working with the incredible NTUA staff and their highly skilled workforce, who set up all of the construction projects, is what made this such a success,” Wilbur said. The training program for distribution crews received support from executive leadership, the Office of Emergency Management, Fleet personnel, Procurement, and Communications groups.

The NTUA said Navajo Nation families expressed their deep gratitude to LADWP, telling the crews that having electricity has lifted a heavy burden. No more gasoline powered generators, no more ice chests, and no more having to store perishable food in the other refrigerators of family members nearby.

“Families are now enjoying the benefits of electricity, including setting up their homes for other services such as running water and cellular/internet communications,” NTUA General Manager Walter Haase said. “We are thankful that LADWP chose the Navajo Nation as the location for its rural mutual-aid field training. We look forward to more partnership projects.”

Photos courtesy of LADWP crews. 

 View Video courtesy of NTUA

LADWP Crews Act Fast to Repair Critical Transmission Tower

By Carol Tucker

On August 5, 2021, LADWP’s Transmission Construction and Maintenance Division was notified that a critical transmission tower supporting the Victorville-Century Transmission LT2 Line was severely damaged and leaning after being struck by a vehicle.  An emergency response operation was conducted by Transmission, Construction and Maintenance, working collaboratively with several other LADWP groups and divisions, and the critical transmission line was re-energized just eight days later.

The tower was crippled when the vehicle crashed into a horizontal bar that ties two tower legs together. The Victorville-Century Lines 1 and 2 are critical high-voltage circuits that bring power to the Los Angeles Metro area from outside the city. Operating since 1936, they are part of the original Boulder Transmission Lines 1 and 2. Over the years those lines were renamed and divided into several circuits, forming a major transmission corridor between Boulder, Nevada and Los Angeles.

Two Electrical Distribution Mechanic Supervisors were dispatched immediately using an Aviation Services helicopter to inspect the damaged tower, located in the remote Mojave Desert about 30 miles south of Victorville. They determined the 130-foot high tower was unstable and that a temporary structure needed to be built as quickly as possible to restore service on the line. Crews were mobilized from the Metro, Victorville and Mojave yards and began transporting tools, equipment and materials.

big metal power tower hoisted up to replace damaged one.

Temporary transmission tower to restore circuits. Photo by Graham Peace.

Brian Wilbur, Deputy Senior Assistant General Manager of Power Construction, Maintenance and Operations, said the crews received support from many other LADWP divisions, including Transmission and Structural Engineering, and Environmental Services. Security Services dispatched personnel to guard the equipment at night, and Fleet Services provided two 110-ton hydro cranes along with operators, drivers and fuel trucks.

The impacted portion of the lines was in the same vicinity as the 2016 “Blue Cut” fire, which took the lines out of commission for 69 days. When reconductoring the lines after the fire, the Power System was able to upgrade the conductors with higher-grade aluminum, which is lighter and easier to repair than the original copper wires.


The repair work entailed stabilizing and securing the damaged tower, and building a temporary structure to support the conductors until a new permanent structure can be erected. For the temporary tower, the crews used fiberglass poles that had been purchased for emergency restoration. The fiberglass poles offer greater mobility and ease of construction compared to traditional methods using guyed lattice temporary towers. The Victorville-Century lines were reenergized at 1646 hours on August 13, 2021—a mere eight days after the accident.

Graham Peace, Superintendent of Transmission, Construction and Maintenance, attributed the quick turn-around to the crews’ experience repairing the transmission system during emergencies such as fires, windstorms and even plane crashes.

“Prior emergencies have provided the employees with the necessary experience and skills to respond efficiently and effectively to new events such as this,” he said. Past experience also has helped employees from different divisions work well together. “The support the section received from the top down and the working relationship developed with Fleet and Engineering ensured crews received the assistance and resources needed to finish the project in such a short time span.”




LADWP Urges Customers to Redouble Water-Saving Efforts

By Carol Tucker

With extreme dry conditions facing the L.A. region and the state of California, LADWP has joined with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Metropolitan) in calling for our customers to redouble their water-saving efforts. On August 17th, Metropolitan’s Board of Directors declared a Water Supply Alert, elevating the regional water supply condition to the second most severe status level.

The Metropolitan Board of Directors’ action elevated the regional water supply status from a “Condition 1 – Water Supply Watch” to a more severe “Condition 2 – Water Supply Alert.” Los Angeles County remains one of the state’s eight counties not under a regional drought state of emergency and no new water restrictions were invoked. But the elevated status reflects the urgency of the water supply situation and encourages increased conservation.

LADWP supports Metropolitan’s elevated Water Supply Alert and echoes the call for increased conservation. “In the City of Los Angeles, we haven’t taken our foot off the conservation pedal. We’ve kept in place our aggressive watering restrictions, and continued to fund a slew of water-saving measures and programs that help our customers conserve water – even during wetter years,” said Martin L. Adams, LADWP General Manager and Chief Engineer. “Now, with extremely dry conditions, we’re urging all of our customers to redouble their efforts. We’re here to support them in saving even more water.”

In July, Governor Gavin Newsom called for a voluntary water use reduction across the state by 15 percent. The Governor’s call comes at a time when some regions in California, particularly Northern California, have been hard-hit by yet another dry year—the second consecutive year of low precipitation, snowpack and runoff.

The elevated Water Supply Alert calls for Metropolitan’s member agencies, of which LADWP is one of the founding members, to increase voluntary regional conservation, review their drought ordinances and water shortage contingency plans, and limit use of storage reserves where possible.

Since 2009, LADWP has continued with Phase 2 of the City of L.A.’s Emergency Water Conservation Plan, which limits watering to three days per week. Phase 2 requirements include many other permanent water-saving measures. LADWP will continue to monitor supply conditions and adjust our planning efforts to as needed.

LADWP has stepped up our conservation and outreach efforts, bringing back “Drop” to help get the word out to customers to save even more water. LADWP offers a variety of rebate and incentive programs for residential and commercial customers to help customers save water and reduce their utility bills. For example, residential customers can receive $3 per square foot for replacing turf with sustainable landscaping and $400 toward a high-efficiency clothes washer. For large commercial customers, LADWP offers an incentive of up to $2 million for innovative water-saving projects through the Technical Assistance Program.

Along with conservation, LADWP continues working to secure our local water supply through expanding recycled water use, improving the amount of water captured from stormwater runoff, and cleaning up the San Fernando groundwater basin.

LADWP customers have made water conservation a way of life.

Water use within LADWP’s service area has dropped by as much as 22% since fiscal year 2013-2014. Roughly 4 million Angelenos currently use about 40 gallons less per person per day than they did 15 years ago, even with the drier conditions.

In fact, Angelenos use less water today than they did more than 50 years ago, despite a population increase of over one million people.

LADWP is committed to providing a water supply that is resilient, sustainable, reliable, high quality and cost effective as we confront extremes in weather conditions and address other challenges in managing our city’s water supply.

A key strategy to maintaining our water strength as a city is to continue diversifying and expanding our local water resources. Los Angeles receives most of our water (about 90% over the past five years) from the Eastern Sierra, via the city-owned Los Angeles Aqueduct, and the San Francisco Bay / Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Colorado River, purchased from Metropolitan. The remainder of our water comes from local groundwater and recycled water supplies.

Visit www.ladwp.com/save to learn more about our cost-saving water efficiency programs.

View LADWP Press Release

View Metropolitan Press Release.


LADWP’s First-Ever Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Appointed

As part of the ongoing initiatives to advance diversity and equity, Monique Earl, a long-time City of Los Angeles executive, has been named to lead the newly created Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at LADWP.

Earl will become part of the senior management team reporting to General Manager Martin Adams, and will be responsible for the oversight of policies, practices and programs designed to improve diversity and opportunities throughout LADWP and position the agency to better serve communities with the highest needs.

As a Senior Assistant General Manager, Earl will also work to provide leadership, guidance and support in the internal and external development and implementation of the department’s Racial Equity Action Plan. Earl’s career with the City of Los Angeles spans 20 years across the legislative, executive and administrative branches of government.

During her roles with the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, Earl led diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in recruitment, hiring and supplier diversity. She served as Chief Deputy Controller for City Controller Ron Galperin and Deputy Mayor of Budget and Financial Policy in the administration of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

She also has a long record of managing DEI efforts with a focus on workforce development, contracting, economic developmentand community engagement. LADWP Board President Cynthia McClain-Hill, a key architect behind the department’s racial equity action initiatives, said she was looking forward to working with Earl on the meaningful new initiatives at LADWP.

“Equity is about making sure everyone, especially people from historically disadvantaged backgrounds, have the opportunity to be successful at LADWP. Monique Earl will be a welcome addition as LADWP’s first Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer during this critical time,” she said.

General Manager and Chief Engineer Martin Adams said he wants to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion are not only valued, but reflected in every aspect of the Department’s operations moving forward. “I am thrilled to have Monique join our leadership team. The energy, enthusiasm, and experience she brings will help LADWP move forward in all areas of DEI, both with our internal staff as well as how we serve communities across Los Angeles. Monique will play a key role in helping us make LADWP the best public agency it can be.”

“It is an honor and huge responsibility to join LADWP in this pivotal role. I look forward to building upon the DEI foundation the Department is laying and establishing a culture where everyone feels seen, heard and valued,” Ms. Earl said.

New Receiving Station at LAX Ready for Takeoff

By Deborah Hong

Construction on LADWP’s first in-basin receiving station in more than three decades is ready for takeoff at the Los Angeles International Airport.

LADWP and Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) broke ground on RS-X in November 2020 at LAX. The first in-basin receiving station built since 1987, RS-X marks an important power reliability project and supports the airport’s modernization plans by providing redundant power to all major LAX facilities.

The new customer station will feature advanced substation automation, redundant power supply capability, up-to-date circuit breaker technology, relaying equipment, fault detection systems and fiber-optics network communications between LADWP stations.

“LAX is the nation’s second busiest airport, so RS-X is critical in maintaining the airport’s power reliability, resiliency, and ensuring a safe and positive experience for the traveling public,” said General Manager and Chief Engineer Martin Adams.
Expected to be completed in 2023, the project represents a significant partnership between the two agencies. LADWP is the designer and technical expert on the project and LAWA will construct the underground-to-grade enabling infrastructure.

“RS-X is a critical piece of infrastructure to provide the necessary resources for LAWA’s electrification efforts in addition to increasing reliability and resiliency, and demonstrates the collaborative spirit between two sister agencies,” said Louis Ting, Director of LADWP’s Power Planning, Development and Engineering.

Under the leadership of the Power Planning, Development and Engineering Division, LADWP’s Power Construction and Maintenance Division will construct RS-X and the Power Transmission and Distribution Division will install the final connections. The design by Substation Engineering Section engineers incorporates the latest technologies. The Major Projects and Generation Engineering Section will ensure designs and construction comply with LADWP standards.

The Distribution System Development and Engineering Section will oversee appropriate electrical connections into LAX. Civil and Structural Engineering staff has reviewed LAWA’s designs, and Power System Drafting has produced the necessary prints for LAWA engineers and construction crews.

Power System’s Electrical and General Construction forces will equip the station with high voltage equipment, structural steel racks, specialized relays and metering and control systems, and will perform start-up testing and commissioning. Power Distribution Construction will connect the appropriate distribution cables and wires. LADWP will operate the station once completed.

Feature photo:
LADWP and LAWA project teams at the groundbreaking of RS-X. (Photo by Chris Corsmeier)

LADWP, City of LA Offer $500 Grants for Low-Income Residents Impacted by COVID

To help customers financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, LADWP joined forces with the Office of Council President Nury Martinez in November to offer the Utility CARES Grant Program and provide one-time relief checks of  $500 to low-income Los Angeles residents. The program, budgeted for $50 million, was made possible through federal CARES Act funding received by the City to assist struggling low-income Angelenos with utility costs.

Thanks to concerted outreach by LADWP, the Council and Mayor’s offices, and community partners, the program garnered over 77,300 applications. Of those, 67,315 applications met eligibility criteria and were accepted, representing $33,657,500 in grants that will be provided to customers.

The program was offered for two weeks in November and extended for a week (November 23) to give more people a chance to apply. LADWP expected to start issuing checks around the middle of December – just in time for the holidays.

To be eligible for the grant, residents had to meet the household income eligibility requirements and be able to provide documentation demonstrating they were financially impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Women Breaking Glass Ceiling at LADWP

First Female Board President and V.P. Lead First All-Female Board

With the Los Angeles City Council’s confirmation of Mia Lehrer as the newest member of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners,  LADWP has the distinction of being led by the first all-female Board in its history.

Appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti in October, Lehrer joined four existing Board members including President Cynthia McClain-Hill, Vice-President Susana Reyes, Commissioner Jill Banks Barad, and Commissioner Nicole Neeman Brady. Lehrer filled the vacancy created by the departure of Board President Mel Levine, who had served as President since 2013–the longest-running term of any Board president.

“Mia will bring her proven leadership, firsthand experience, deep expertise, and extraordinary drive to ensuring LADWP remains one of the most sustainable, reliable, and responsible public utilities in America,” said Mayor Garcetti upon her nomination in September. “When Mia takes her seat on the Board, we will make history for our city and mark a critical moment of progress on the road to true equity — all while deepening the department’s commitment to safeguarding our environment, combating climate change, and creating good-paying jobs.”

“I’m excited and ready to join this board made up of talented and accomplished individuals who happen to be women, and who also reflect the diversity of the city we serve,” said Lehrer. “I want to thank Mayor Garcetti for this opportunity to serve and make a difference when it comes to securing an environmentally sustainable future for Los Angeles.”

It was the second time the glass ceiling was broken by LADWP’s Board of Commissioners in 2020. In July, McClain-Hill and Reyes were elected as the first female Board President and Vice President, respectfully.

“I am greatly honored to serve as President of this Board and grateful for the support of Mayor Garcetti, members of the City Council, and my fellow Board members. This is a time of unprecedented challenges, as we work to build a stronger Los Angeles by achieving our goals for clean, reliable and sustainable water and energy in the midst of an international pandemic, financial crisis, and urgent cries for racial justice and equity in our city,” McClain-Hill said.

Mayor Garcetti has made gender equity a top priority from the beginning of his term in office, taking actions to bring parity and balance into the heart of City leadership. Women currently hold more than 50% of the positions on more than 40 City Boards and Commissions.

Raised in El Salvador, Lehrer earned her Master of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and later founded Studio-MLA in 1996, an L.A. urban design and landscape architecture firm. She has lectured widely on landscape and urban design, including environmental and sustainability issues and the public process. Her firm has completed numerous projects including Franklin Ivar Park in Hollywood and Vista Hermosa Park in downtown Los Angeles.

During Lehrer’s first Board meeting on October 27, the Board considered key programs, including the $50 million low-income utility assistance program, restoration efforts in Mono Basin and Clean Grid L.A.  Board President McClain-Hill remarked, “Today is a historic first as we hold our first meeting as an all-female board of commissioners. It has taken us 118 years in the history of LADWP to see this day, and I’m very excited to be part of this.”

Line worker looking up at pole

Benchmarking Study Shows LADWP Ranks High Among Peers for Infrastructure Investment

Ratepayer Advocate, LADWP Release ‘Functional Total Cost Study’ Comparing Labor and Non-Labor Costs to Peer Utilities

By Carol Tucker

LADWP is executing one of the largest infrastructure initiatives in the utility industry and compares favorably with its peers on cost effectiveness across a number of water and power functions, according to the findings of a new benchmarking study issued by LADWP and the Office of Public Accountability–Ratepayer Advocate (RPA).

The Department ranked in the top quartile for investing in modernizing both water and power infrastructure, such as mainlines and trunk lines, power poles, circuits and transformers, according to the Functional Total Cost Study, presented in August to the LADWP Board of Water and Power Commissioners.

“LADWP is 100% funded by the revenue we collect from our customers, and we continuously strive to deliver on our mission and achieve our goals cost-effectively,” said Martin L. Adams, General Manager and Chief Engineer. “The Functional Total Cost Study will guide our path forward as we transform our water and energy resources, improve water and power operations, and create more opportunities to better serve our customers.”

The public independent analysis, prepared by Oliver Wyman for the RPA with support from LADWP, is the second of a three-phase benchmarking program aimed at “peeling back the onion” to identify the areas with greatest opportunities for improvement and efficiency. The benchmarking program sets LADWP on a path toward modernization in a way that is cost effective and best serves customers.

The Functional Total Cost Study evaluated total labor, staffing and non-labor costs for key functions within the power and water systems, as well as customer service, human resources, information technology, purchasing, executive management and other areas that support the entire Department. The study used industry data to benchmark LADWP in comparison with investor-owned utilities (IOUs) and publicly-owned utilities (POUs) on a wide range of performance metrics.

The study found that LADWP achieved good results in a unique and challenging environment. LADWP operates a large, complex municipal water and power utility in a city with major challenges, including housing density, record-setting traffic congestion, rapid population growth, and strong stakeholder interests, the study said. Among LADWP’s unique challenges is the City Charter requirement to use internal labor to operate, maintain and upgrade water and electric infrastructure. The study found that using internal labor creates some cost challenges but also produces benefits.

In looking at operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, the study concluded that LADWP has reasonably controlled the growth of power and water O&M expenses over the long-term. The Power System’s total controllable O&M expenses rank about in the median, while the Water System’s O&M expenses are somewhat above the median.

In addition, the report noted that LADWP continues to maintain competitive water and power rates, reflected on customer bills, when compared to California peer utilities.

The study found that LADWP has one of the most aggressive power capital programs in the industry. Compared to both IOUs and POUs, LADWP’s spending is in the 1st quartile at $735 per electric customer, reflecting the utility’s heavy investment in replacing and transforming its aging infrastructure. High spending in capital programs is viewed positively in the industry as investment in replacing aging infrastructure, according to the study.

Similarly, LADWP’s Water System is “on a strong path to continue to invest and build for the future,” the study stated. “Water’s capital total spending is, and historically has been, near the highest among both IOU and POU peers, reflecting our continued focus on replacing aging infrastructure.” Water capital spending ranked in the 1st quartile at $665 per water customer.

LADWP has worked diligently to meet its own, and court-mandated customer service metrics, the study said. Call answer times have dramatically improved during the period evaluated in the study. LADWP has also continued to invest in branch offices, unlike other utilities, in an effort to be part of the local community and be more accessible to its customers.

However, the benchmarking results showed that total customer service costs are higher than peer utilities. Achieving better customer service could be addressed through hiring more staff, better resource management, and better use of automation.

Through benchmarking LADWP with peer utilities, the study found significant opportunities for improvement, and offered 17 key recommendations for controlling costs while removing obstacles toward modernization. With support of the RPA, LADWP identified five recommendations for initial focus.

“We recognized the value of all the recommendations but we knew the number was too large and broad to tackle all at once,” Adams said. “We believe the initial five key focus areas will make the biggest difference in meeting our goals and achieving the biggest benefits for ratepayers.”

These include understanding and addressing challenges in power distribution, resolving issues in human resources, increasing investment in information technology, better aligning and developing management, and offering an improved value proposition for attracting and retaining senior, mid- and first-line managers.

The benchmarking study compared LADWP with 26 public utilities in California and large power and water utilities in other states, as well as 24 private investor-owned utilities. The utilities selected were considered the most comparable to LADWP in terms of customer density, cost of living and labor, and the labor environment.

View a Report Summary to learn more:
2020 Benchmarking Study Phase 2 Summary

View the full report at the Office of Public Accountability


Cynthia McClain-Hill Elected President of LA Board of Water and Power Commissioners, Susana Reyes Elected Vice President

Attorney and public policy strategist Cynthia McClain-Hill was elected July 28, 2020 as President of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners, and Commissioner Susana Reyes, a retired LADWP customer service director for low-income programs and sustainability advisor to Mayor Eric Garcetti, was elected the Board’s Vice President. McClain-Hill replaces former U.S. Congressman Mel Levine, who has served as Board President since 2013—the longest-running term of any Board of Water and Power Commission President. Mr. Levine nominated both for their respective positions, which were approved today by the Board.

An advocate for racial and environmental justice with an outstanding record of service in the public and non-profit sectors, McClain-Hill has served as Vice President of the LADWP Board since September 5, 2018. She was appointed to the Board by Mayor Eric Garcetti and confirmed by the City Council on August 15, 2018.

“From the Police Commission to the DWP, Cynthia McClain-Hill has been unafraid to tackle our toughest challenges, giving her time, energy, resolve, and experience to the cause of a fairer, safer, more equitable Los Angeles,” said Mayor Garcetti. “As we endure and emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, I have no doubt that Cynthia will continue the bold and thoughtful leadership of Mel Levine as LADWP Board President, and help us push forward on the path to healthier communities and a more sustainable city.”

“I am greatly honored to serve as President of this Board and grateful for the support of Mayor Garcetti, members of the City Council, and my fellow Board members. This is a time of unprecedented challenges, as we work to build a stronger Los Angeles by achieving our goals for clean, reliable and sustainable water and energy in the midst of an international pandemic, financial crisis, and urgent cries for racial justice and equity in our city,” McClain-Hill said. “I am confident that working together, LADWP can surmount these challenges and come out a stronger, more inclusive organization that provides equity and fairness for our customers, communities, and employees in everything we do.”

As Managing Director of Strategic Counsel PLC, McClain-Hill leads the firm’s regulatory, land use and environmental law practices. She is a widely respected attorney and public policy strategist with an outstanding record of service. Prior to her appointment to the Board, she served on the City’s Police Commission and Community Redevelopment Agency. She is a past member of the California Coastal Commission, the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), the CalEPA Environmental Justice Advisory Working Group, and the Los Angeles City Small and Local Business Advisory Committee. She served as president of the National Association of Women Business Owners in 2008-2009. Consistently named one of Southern California’s “Super Lawyers” based on surveys of 65,000 Los Angeles area attorneys, McClain-Hill ranks among the top five percent of the state’s practicing attorneys.

Outgoing President Levine said, “It has been a great honor for me to serve as President of the Board of Commissioners for the past seven years and I am very pleased to have nominated Cynthia McClain-Hill as the new Commission President and Susana Reyes as the new Vice President.  They will bring great energy and experience to their respective positions and they will also offer the perspective of members of communities which have been historically inadequately represented at a time when that perspective is urgently needed.  Here too, LADWP will help lead the way.”

LADWP General Manager and Chief Engineer Martin L. Adams said, “All of us at LADWP owe President Levine a tremendous debt of gratitude for his leadership and service over the past seven years.  He has led the Board during some of the Department’s most transformative and challenging times and has done so with wisdom, thoughtfulness, persistence and humor. This Department is stronger, because of Mel Levine’s steady leadership. Our newly elected Commission President Cynthia McClain-Hill is a strong, impactful leader with a toughness that enables her to get things done. I look forward to continuing to work with her, Vice-President Susana Reyes and the entire Board to accomplish great things for the Department and the City as we focus on transforming our water and power supplies to more sustainable resources, investing in infrastructure, and creating equity within our organization and the communities we serve.”

Newly elected Vice President Susana Reyes was appointed to the Board of Water and Power Commissioners by Mayor Garcetti and confirmed by the City Council on June 5, 2019. Reyes is the first Filipino-American and also the first LADWP retiree to sit on the Board. She previously served as the director of LADWP’s Low-Income Customer Access, a position that helped ensure low-income ratepayers could access financial assistance, discounts and rebates offered by the utility.  A public servant for over 33 years, she is the founder and CEO of AgilEngines LLC, an advocacy and consulting firm focused on community outreach and civic engagement strategies.

“I am humbled and honored by the trust instilled in me and I am excited to get to work as the new Vice President. The City of L.A. and LADWP are at a crossroads going through a movement moment. I envision opportunities for innovative and bold solutions for LADWP to serve the public more reliably, safely, and equitably and in new ways that will transform its culture and capacity for change. I will work to ensure the public trust through a system of transparency, public participation, and stakeholder collaboration,” said Reyes.

Reyes’ experience also includes working on Mayor Garcetti’s Sustainability team as a Senior Policy Analyst, where she helped oversee the implementation of Los Angeles’ first Sustainable City pLAn and secured a $1.7 million grant for the City from the California Air and Resources Board to help launch BlueLA — an EV car sharing pilot program in low-income communities. She is also an active member of the Sierra Club, and was elected to the organization’s first-ever all-female Executive Committee in 2017.  She serves on the Governing Board of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy on forest health and watershed issues and has served on the board of the L.A. League of Conservation Voters. Her work advancing equity and climate justice initiatives has earned her distinguished awards and recognitions.

To read the biographies of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners, click here.


COVID-19 Employee Innovations

Upholstery Shop Switches from Seat Covers to Face Covers During COVID-19

By Michael Ventre

Upholstery has always been a reliable place to find loose change, after-dinner mints and paper clips. Recently, LADWP searched around in upholstery and came up with a great idea.

During the COVID-19 emergency, face masks are essential. They’re also in high demand. LADWP crews, especially those in the Power System who work near high voltage lines and equipment, not only need masks now to wear on the job, but ones that are fire-resistant, a.k.a. Arc Resistant (AR). The Power System has nearly 3,000 full-time AR clothing wearers who would potentially need a mask of similar rating to maintain their compliance with Cal/OSHA regulations.

To satisfy this demand, representatives from LADWP’s Fleet Services, Power Construction & Maintenance and Power System Safety put their thinking caps on (hard hat versions). During the ensuing discussions it was mentioned that Fleet had an Automotive Upholstery Shop at the Main Street facility. They all uttered a collective “Hmmm.”

Usually the Automotive Upholstery Shop handles tasks involving seats in a vehicle, or belts, or pouches, or other related items. During COVID-19, that stuff will have to wait.

Quickly, out went some old equipment, in came two new industrial-strength sewing machines. Some fire-resistant material that was in storage at LADWP’s Truesdale training facility was procured. And Francisco Villalobos-Casillas, already a master upholsterer after only two years with LADWP, suddenly became a master mask maker.

“This is a completely different animal,” he said. “We brought in new cutting tables and special machines that clean the material as they cut. There was definitely a learning curve.”

LADWP lineworker Jeff Hurley at work wearing one of the masks. Photo by Art Mochizuki

The masks are lined inside with a jersey material, while the outside is denim. Assisted by a PCM crew under the supervision of Chris Ianniri, Villalobos-Casillas first made 10 samples each of common masks and the fire-resistant masks. The masks also have to be washed before usage, per Power System Safety recommendations. When they were approved, he began production in earnest. He and an assistant now produce up to 200 masks per day.

As of the end of April,  Villalobos-Casillas and an assistant had produced some 900 masks, nearly one-third of the way toward meeting their target of 3,000, enough to immediately supply the critical employees working in Arc-Flash environments and keep them safe during COVID-19.

“This is a wonderful example of how diverse our tradesmen and women are at the Department,” said David W. Hanson, Assistant Director, Power Construction & Maintenance and a member of the mask brain trust along with PCM colleague Robert Gonzalez; Ken White in Automotive Upholstery; Dan Aeschleman, Adam Krause and Nazir Fazli in Power System Safety; storekeeper Carol Scott, and Tom Patzlaff and Mike McGeachy in Fleet.

Hanson marveled, “Who would have thought that the Automotive Upholsterer was part of our Critical Continuity of Operation plan? Thank goodness, Fleet Services still had an upholsterer on staff.”

You just never know what you might discover in upholstery.


LADWP Makes Top 10 for Energy Efficiency Among U.S. Utilities

By Carol Tucker

Hard work by LADWP employees and significant budget investments in expanding energy efficiency programs paid off recently, as LADWP made the top 10 and tied for the biggest point gain among 52 large U.S. utilities surveyed in the 2020 Utility Energy Efficiency Scorecard.

During a recent Board of Water and Power Commissioners meeting, Martin L. Adams, General Manager and Chief Engineer, congratulated and recognized about 50 employees from Customer Service and Efficiency Solutions for their achievement in expanding and implementing LADWP’s energy efficiency customer-focused programs.

“This is a tremendous achievement for LADWP, and would not have been possible without consistent dedication from everyone working to help our customers be more energy efficient in their homes, businesses, and institutions,” Adams said.

LADWP increased energy savings 54 percent from 2015 to 2018 and investments in energy efficiency more than 50 percent during that timeframe, distinguishing itself as one of two “most improved” utilities by the 2020 Scorecard, along with Consumers Energy.

LADWP achieved over 1.5 percent megawatt-hour (MWh) savings as a percentage of total energy sales, and increased its investment from $78.6 million to $135.2 million in 2018, representing 3.2 percent of energy sales. LADWP also achieved the third highest energy savings per low-income customers.

Released February 20, 2020 by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the Scorecard ranking reflects LADWP’s increased investments in Energy Efficiency programs, as well as the expansion of our portfolio of program offerings and comprehensiveness. The Scorecard noted that LADWP had improved significantly in offering more programs using emerging technologies LADWP programs also have improved in targeting a more diverse range of customers and end uses.

Over the past few years, LADWP has significantly boosted its budget for energy efficiency as a key strategy to meet California’s greenhouse gas reduction legislation and the goals of the Mayor’s 2015, 2017 and 2019 Sustainable City pLAns. The 2019 pLAn, known as the Green New Deal, calls for achieving a 100 percent renewable energy supply by 2045.

The 2020 Utility Energy Efficiency Scorecard ranks utilities on 20 metrics based on their 2018 performance, policies, and programs, allocating 50 possible points.


LADWP Welcomes Nicole Neeman Brady to Board of Commissioners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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