UCLA to guide the prioritization and evaluation of equity strategies for LADWP’s clean energy transition

New engaged research builds on LCI’s past affordability recommendations

UCLA to guide the prioritization and evaluation of equity strategies for LADWP’s clean energy transition

Credit: iStock / bymuratdeniz

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is committed to transitioning to 100% renewable electricity by 2035 — a process projected to cost as much as $87 billion. Last year’s LA100 Equity Strategies study armed the utility with a long list of strategies to keep these costs from disproportionately burdening low-income customers and environmental justice communities. Now, LADWP must select, design, and implement programs and policies that keep energy as affordable as possible, maintain reliable energy access for all customers, and ensure that everyone gets a fair share of the benefits of clean energy.

Last year, as part of the study, the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation (LCI) and colleagues provided LADWP with recommendations for robust, long-term solutions to low-income customers’ ability to pay their bills through the clean energy transition. Now, in partnership with the UCLA California Center for Sustainable Communities, our researchers are digging deeper into energy equity issues to guide the agency’s development, implementation, and evaluation of these recommendations. 

“Our goal is to ensure that the plan achieves the most just outcomes possible for the energy transition,” said Gregory Pierce, co-executive director of LCI. 

Together, the centers will engage LADWP and the Equity Strategies Advisory Committee — an assembly of local, community-serving groups tasked with providing the utility counsel on its equity efforts — to tackle the following tasks:

  • Guide prioritization and evaluation of equity strategies as LADWP implements recommendations to improve energy affordability, solar access, residential energy efficiency, electric grid reliability, and other energy equity outcomes. 
  • Refine the energy affordability estimation tool that UCLA researchers developed to help LADWP understand how switching to electric appliances and vehicles will affect energy costs. The researchers will also use the tool to model electrification impacts on different types of households.
  • Support LADWP’s community engagement to ensure that the utility’s approach is informed and driven by the needs, preferences, and expertise of communities currently facing injustice and inequity in the energy system. UCLA will coordinate and facilitate Equity Strategies Advisory Committee meetings, as well as develop educational materials to advance the public’s understanding of the energy system, rate structures, electricity infrastructure, and affordability policy. 

“LADWP has the opportunity to lead the nation in how to achieve a more just energy transition,” said Stephanie Pincetl, director of the UCLA California Center for Sustainable Communities, “and we are honored to help facilitate that possibility.”

Building on 10 years of successful research collaborations with UCLA, LADWP has commissioned this research to support the creation of a more equitable transition to renewable energy. As a public university and one of LADWP’s oldest customers, UCLA is highly invested in the local community, and LCI and CCSC both will utilize existing relationships with civic leaders and community groups.

To learn more about LCI’s energy equity research, click here.