Distributed Energy Resources

LADWP study will expand its clean energy goals to include social equity

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is expanding its 100 percent renewable energy goal to include social equity and greater community input.

LADWP’s board of directors on June 23 authorized the public power utility to move forward with LA100 Equity Strategies, which aims to incorporate community-driven and equitable outcomes into the goals of the LA100 study completed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in March.

The LA100 study identified multiple paths for LADWP to achieve a 100 percent renewable and carbon dioxide free electric grid by 2045. Since then, LADWP officials and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti have moved the 100 percent goal forward to 2035 with interim milestones of 80 percent renewable energy and 97 percent carbon dioxide free energy by 2030.

LA100 Equity Strategies grew out of LA100’s finding that 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.

“While LA100 found that we can achieve 100 percent renewable energy and a carbon-free grid, and do so reliably, we recognized the need for legitimate and substantive engagement with our communities and stakeholders if we are to lead the state and nation on decarbonization and create a model that other utilities can replicate,” Cynthia McClain-Hill, president of LADWP’s board, said in a statement. “LA100 Equity Strategies is a critical next step on the path to 100 percent renewables, with the goal of lifting up all Angelenos so that everyone will share in the benefits of clean energy.”

LADWP’s board authorized NREL to lead LA100 Equity Strategies in cooperation with the Luskin Center for Innovation at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

The equity study will incorporate the analysis and findings of the LA100 study and look for ways to achieve specific outcomes that will be identified through a stakeholder engagement process. “Every neighborhood of Los Angeles is unique, and this will be a neighborhood-level, community-driven process,” McClain-Hill said. “Beginning with the very first stage, LA100 Equity Strategies will bring together environmental justice communities and stakeholders to identify and prioritize what outcomes they would like the study to analyze.”

LADWP’s equity metrics initiative identified disparities in low-income and underserved communities in participation in customer-focused clean energy programs such as customer rooftop solar, electric vehicle and charging station rebates, smart thermostat rebates, and other programs designed to help customers save energy and money.

The study will examine a set of goals that could include:

  • Access to energy customer programs and distributed energy resources;
  • Local neighborhood power grid upgrades;
  • Assistance to renters to participate in solar, energy efficiency, and electrification programs;
  • Reduced environmental impacts of end-of-life of technologies, such as batteries;
  • Increased public charging to promote access to electric vehicles;
  • Improved air quality through renewable-resource derived fuels;
  • Affordable rates and utility debt relief;
  • Clean air, including for those located near power facilities; and
  • Impacts to housing and transportation.

LADWP “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,” Martin Adams, LADWP’s general manager and chief engineer, said in a statement.

Adams discussed the LA100 study in a recent episode of the American Public Power Association’s Public Power Now podcast.