Community Grants Help Expand Clean Energy Benefits for Environmental Justice Communities

By Carol Tucker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grant Awardees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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*Feature photo by Art Mochizuki