LA100 Equity Strategies: Community-Driven Effort to Ensure Equitable Transition to 100% Clean Energy for L.A.
By Carol Tucker
“All communities will share in the benefits of the clean energy transition, but improving equity in participation and outcomes would require intentionally designed policies and programs.” – LA100 Study
Following the release of the unprecedented Los Angeles 100% Renewable Energy Study (LA100), it became clear that much more work is needed to ensure that all L.A. communities will benefit equitably from the clean energy transformation.
In June 2021, the Board of Water and Power Commissioners announced a new study – LA100 Equity Strategies – to identify and develop implementation-ready programs and strategies to achieve equity outcomes in L.A.’s clean energy transition. The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which conducted LA100, was tapped to lead LA100 Equity Strategies in partnership with several UCLA research groups and departments.
“As we met with communities and engaged in dialogue on the outcomes of LA100, a common and clear theme emerged: that we at LADWP need to do a lot more on ensuring equity and environmental justice for communities who stand to be the most impacted by the clean energy transition”
– Board President Cynthia McClain-Hill
The LA100 Equity Strategies Steering Committee was formed to provide strategic direction for the effort, contributing their knowledge, ideas, and feedback to inform the project. The Steering Committee includes members of community-based organizations representing communities disproportionately affected by inequities in the city’s energy programs and have been underrepresented in shaping energy strategies. The committee also includes the Neighborhood Council LADWP MOU Committee and the City of Los Angeles Climate Emergency Mobilization Office (CEMO).
“Through LA100 Equity Strategies, we will be looking to community-based organizations to help develop community-driven goals, strategies to overcome barriers, and design policies and programs to ensure that equity-deserving communities share the benefits of the clean energy transition,” McClain-Hill said during the first meeting of the Steering Committee in November.
LA100 Equity Strategies is an opportunity to address the historical inequities and at the same time, boost customer participation in clean energy programs, such as demand-response, energy efficiency, rooftop solar, and electric vehicle adoption.
“From the LA100 study, we learned that expanding these customer programs will be essential to achieving our 100% carbon-free energy goal” said Marty Adams, LADWP General Manager and Chief Engineer. “Their participation will help all of L.A. meet our clean energy goals.”
“But as we expand these programs and add many more, we must ensure that customers who are impacted by poor air quality, and have the least ability to afford higher electric bills, are able to benefit from the clean energy transformation.”
Comprehensive Equity Study
LA100 Equity Strategies will produce a comprehensive equity study built around three main tenets of energy justice: procedural justice, recognition justice and distributional justice. Procedural justice refers to enabling the community to have a voice in addressing energy problems, and the policies and approaches to address these problems. Recognition justice involves understanding and addressing past and current energy inequities. Distributional justice means achieving just and equitable distribution of benefits and negative impacts of the clean energy transition.
The Steering Committees will provide guidance on prioritizing the equity outcomes from the study. These outcomes may include reducing energy cost and environmental burdens, expanding clean energy jobs, increasing access to rooftop solar and clean mobility, such as electric cars and bicycles, assessing impacts to housing, and improving reliability.
Following the conclusion of LA100, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the accelerated goal to achieve 100% carbon-free sources by 2035, with interim goals of 80% renewable sources and 97% carbon-free by 2030. In August 2021, the Los Angeles City Council approved motions requiring LADWP to reach 100% carbon-free energy by 2035 and to determine and adopt the path to reach this goal through the 2022 Strategic Long-Term Resource Plan (SLTRP). Updated annually, the SLTRP offers a roadmap for providing reliable and sustainable electricity to LADWP customers with a 25-year planning horizon.
Aligning Power Plans
Simon Zewdu, Director of LADWP’s Power Transmission Planning, Regulatory, and Innovation Division, said the results of LA100 Equity Strategies will “inform and guide the SLTRP from an equity perspective as we plan and develop new programs and strategies to achieve our renewable and decarbonization goals.”
In the fall of 2021, LADWP conducted an intensive stakeholder engagement process that will inform the 2022 SLTRP. Building upon the LA100 study findings, the 2022 SLTRP will conduct modeling and analysis, guided by the stakeholder Advisory Group, and recommend a path to reach L.A.’s 100% clean energy goal.
“These two processes are very much in alignment,” Zewdu said. “LA100 Equity Strategies will provide concrete recommendations to improve energy equity through programs and policies that will be incorporated into future SLTRPs.” Power system staff anticipates the two efforts will merge by mid-2023 after the Equity Strategies study is completed.
Equity Strategies will help LADWP understand the priorities that matter most to environmental justice communities. The process will also provide insight on how best to engage those communities in designing new or modifying existing programs to help reduce the environmental and economic energy burden impacting their areas.
“This is unlike anything LADWP has done in the past. LA100 Equity Strategies is intentionally community-driven and community-informed. This effort is about getting closer to our communities, addressing their needs and resolving issues. Our goal is to produce equitable outcomes in terms of both benefits and burdens,” Zewdu said.