LA100 Equity Strategies Receives National Recognition for Excellence in Energy Justice

LA100 Equity Strategies Project Was a Finalist for 2024 Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) Power Player of the Year Award in Equity Category

June 18, 2024 | By Julia Medeiros Coad | Contact media relations

A group of people standing outside.
Representatives from NREL, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), UCLA, and local organizations attended the LA100 Equity Strategies release event on Nov. 16, 2023. Photo from LADWP

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) research is helping communities of all sizes lead the way to a just energy transition—including the second-largest city in the nation.

Providing Los Angeles with practical approaches for improving energy equity, the NREL-led LA100 Equity Strategies project was selected as a finalist for the 2024 SEPA Power Player of the Year award in the equity category.

LA100 Equity Strategies was chosen as one of three equity category finalists for researching community-guided, data-driven strategies for increasing equity in Los Angeles' energy transition. The city, whose municipal utility serves more than 4 million residents, has a goal of achieving 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035.

"NREL's vision is a clean energy future for the world, which means all communities must be able to participate," said Kate Anderson, NREL strategy lead and LA100 Equity Strategies lead. "Energy policies and programs must be intentionally designed to reach all community members, including those who can least afford the energy transition."

The SEPA Power Player Awards selection is based on the values of innovation, collaboration, and scalability. Selected projects offer innovative solutions, exemplify teamwork, and have the potential to make a wider impact.

NREL worked on the project in partnership with the University of California, Los Angeles to identify community-guided, research-based strategies for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to improve equity in its programs and services. With the completion of the project in fall 2023, LADWP announced its Powered by Equity initiative, which introduced updates to programs and services that are directly informed by the community engagement and findings from LA100 Equity Strategies. Key actions implemented through the initiative include creating an equity advisory board to ensure disadvantaged communities have a voice in the utility's long-term power planning process, expanding electric vehicle (EV) charging in underserved areas, increasing used EV rebates for low-income customers, and proposing a discounted shared solar rate for residents of underserved communities.

Approaching Equity From All Angles

LA100 Equity Strategies aims to help Los Angeles reach its clean energy goals in a way that is more equitable for all residents, while delivering improved health, affordability, accessibility, and job opportunities. The project provided several avenues toward a more equitable energy transition for the city, some of which the city has already begun to pursue.

Equity Advisory Board

Energy equity requires continuous engagement between the utility and the community. Strategies found to encourage this engagement included formalizing the LA100 Equity Strategies partnerships with energy-focused, community-based organizations in disadvantaged communities into long-term agreements, maintaining a continuous feedback loop with community partners. In response to this finding, LADWP announced the creation of a Clean and Equitable Energy Transformation Stakeholder Advisory Team made up of representatives from Los Angeles' underserved communities to advise on the strategic long-term power planning process.

Transportation Electrification

The LA100 Equity Strategies project found that increasing LADWP's used EV low-income incentives and expanding at- and near-home EV charging access could boost used EV adoption among low-income households by 50,000 vehicles over the next 10 to 11 years. In response to this finding, LADWP announced an increase in its used EV rebate for low-income customers and plans to add fast-charging EV hubs across the city, with a focus on underserved communities.

Residential and Community Solar Photovoltaics

Researchers found hundreds of economically viable potential community or shared solar sites and a range of strategies to broaden access to solar energy benefits to low-income households and renters. These strategies include a discounted community solar rate for residents of underserved communities, which LADWP proposed in its Powered by Equity initiative.

Household Weatherization and Safe Home Temperatures

An estimated 230,000 low-income households in Los Angeles will experience more than two months of dangerous indoor air temperatures by 2035. The LA100 Equity Strategies project identified strategies that could save lives by increasing access to safe and comfortable home temperatures, such as expanding direct installation of cooling in extremely low-income households and prioritizing multifamily buildings. LADWP offers cooling rebates to income-qualified customers through the Cool LA program to help overcome the health risks associated with extreme heat.

Improving Equity Across Los Angeles and Beyond

Los Angeles is not the only community that can benefit from the robust research and community guidance in LA100 Equity Strategies. Many strategies that NREL outlined for Los Angeles can be adapted for other cities interested in increasing energy equity in their transitions.

"At NREL, we work to ensure our methodologies are transparent and replicable," said Megan Day, technical lead for LA100 Equity Strategies. "Other utilities and communities can take a look at the strategies and equity metrics for Los Angeles and apply the same community guidance processes and analysis approaches to identify energy equity strategies in their own community."

Get a high-level overview of key findings from the LA100 Equity Strategies project fact sheet, and dive in deeper on the interactive website.

Learn more about NREL's community-engaged work with Puerto Rico on transitioning to 100% renewable energy on the PR100 website and the laboratory's technical assistance for equitable energy transitions with state, local, and Tribal governments.

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