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.

Visit  www.ladwp.com/emissionreductiongrants for more information and updates.

*Feature photo by Art Mochizuki




LA100 Equity Strategies: Community-Driven Effort to Ensure Equitable Transition to 100% Clean Energy for L.A.

LA100 Equity Strategies LogoBy 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.

screenshots of people attending web meeting

The SLTRP Advisory Group began meeting virtually in September 2021.

“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.

Understanding Priorities

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.

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