NREL and LADWP will focus on energy justice as the city pursues a carbon-free future

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will team up with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) on an effort to achieve what the two described as a “just and equitable 100% carbon-free future for all communities in Los Angeles.”

The effort follows the March release of the LA100 study, which was prepared by NREL and found that Los Angeles can achieve reliable, 100% renewable power as early as 2035. The study also revealed that while all communities in Los Angeles will share in the benefits of the clean energy transition, improving equity in participation and outcomes requires intentionally designed policies and programs.

The LADWP Board of Water and Power Commissioners authorized NREL to lead LA100 Equity Strategies in cooperation with the Luskin Center for Innovation at the University of California Los Angeles.

Image: Webstep, Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/en/users/webstep-1490584/

That study said that reaching a 100% renewable grid by 2035 will require adding new solar, batteries, wind, and transmission, along with operational practices that make more efficient use of those assets. The study did not address specific costs, but said that economic impacts to the city would be “small relative to the overall size” of LA’s economy.

Improving energy justice

The new phase of the study, LA100 Equity Strategies, aims to apply modeling and analysis to address how Los Angeles can ensure that its transition to 100% clean energy with high levels of electrification will improve energy justice as measured by metrics that include reduced energy burdens, increased access to energy services like cooling, and improved quality of life.

The effort will bring together environmental justice communities and other stakeholders to identify community-driven, energy-just outcomes, particularly for those in disadvantaged communities.

The LADWP Board of Water and Power Commissioners authorized NREL to lead LA100 Equity Strategies in cooperation with the Luskin Center for Innovation at the University of California Los Angeles.

NREL and UCLA will model pathways to achieve community-driven, prioritized equity outcomes for disadvantaged communities, which could include the following:

  • Reducing energy burdens
  • Expanding access to clean energy and efficiency jobs
  • Increasing access to cooling
  • Increasing access to clean mobility
  • Improving air quality and health impacts
  • Improving reliability of electricity
  • Improving access to rooftop solar
  • Reducing waste from clean energy transitions.
Historical data measured through LADWP’s equity metrics initiative have shown disparities in low-income and underserved communities

Image by Armin Forster from Pixabay

Historical data measured through LADWP’s equity metrics initiative have shown 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.

Other steps

The LA100 study was a three-year study to analyze pathways the community could take to achieve a 100% clean energy future. Stemming from several Los Angeles City Council motions in 2016 and 2017, the study analyzed more than 100 million ultrahigh-resolution simulations to evaluate a range of future scenarios for how LADWP’s power system could evolve to 100% renewables while maintaining its current degree of reliability.

Since the release of the LA100 study, officials have announced an accelerated goal of achieving a 100% carbon-free power grid by 2035, and interim milestones of 80% renewable energy and 97% carbon-free by 2030.

Other initiatives include launching an environmental review process for 10 new transmission projects within the Los Angeles Basin, identified through studies as critically necessary to support the increase of renewable energy, and ensure reliability as local in-basin natural gas plants are phased out. LADWP also plans to issue a request for information (RFI) to explore options for green hydrogen power technologies and best practices.

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