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NREL Follows Up Groundbreaking LA100 Study With New Equity Strategies Initiative

Following the release of the groundbreaking Los Angeles 100% Renewable Energy Study (LA100), the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will again team up with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) on a comprehensive, community-driven effort to achieve a just and equitable 100% carbon-free future for all communities in Los Angeles.

Released in March 2021, the LA100 study 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 new phase of the study, LA100 Equity Strategies, picks up where LA100 left off by applying cutting-edge modeling and analysis to answer: How can Los Angeles ensure its transition to 100% clean energy, with high levels of electrification, will improve energy justice as measured by metrics including reduced energy burdens, increased access to energy services like cooling, and improved quality of life?

LA100 Equity Strategies will address that question by bringing together environmental justice communities and other key Los Angeles stakeholders to identify community-driven, energy-just outcomes, particularly for those in disadvantaged communities.

“Ensuring all Angelenos will share in the benefits of the clean energy transition is a fundamental priority for our partners in Los Angeles,” said Megan Day, NREL senior energy planner and co-lead of the LA100 Equity Strategies project. “The initial LA100 analysis identified the infrastructural changes Los Angeles can implement to achieve deep decarbonization, and now LA100 Equity Strategies will identify ways to ensure those changes are made equitably.”

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

“We’ve designed this next phase of the LA100 project to align with the core principles of energy justice,” said Paty Romero Lankao, NREL senior research scientist and co-lead of the LA100 Equity Strategies project. “We’ll work to meaningfully enable participation for community members, listen to and acknowledge past energy inequities​, and ultimately identify pathways for LADWP and the City of Los Angeles to implement clean energy transitions in ways that improve energy justice outcomes.”

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.

The LA100 study was a three-year, first-of-its-kind rigorous and science-based 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 high degree of reliability.

Watch to learn about pathways LA could take to reach a reliable, 100% renewable electricity supply. Text Version

Since the release of the LA100 study, Mayor Eric Garcetti and LADWP officials 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. LA100 Equity Strategies is one of the critical next steps toward meeting those goals in equitable and inclusive ways.

Learn more about the first phase of the LA100 project, and learn more about LA100 Equity Strategies in LADWP’s press release.

Article courtesy of NREL, the U.S. Department of Energy.

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