Board of Water & Power Commissioners Advance Racial Equity Initiatives on Anniversary of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Executive Directive 27
June 18, 2021 (LOS ANGELES)- As the one-year anniversary of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Executive Directive to City Departments to take concrete actions to promote racial equity in City government approaches, LADWP is proud to report that it has made significant progress on multiple initiatives to advance racial equity, following through on the Mayor’s Directive, Executive Directive 27 issued on Juneteenth 2020.
Mayor Garcetti’s directive to City departments followed unprecedented worldwide calls for social justice and an end to institutional racism following the brutal murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. Executive Directive 27 led to LADWP taking a comprehensive review of racial equity and launching several key initiatives.
Over the past year, under the leadership of Board President Cynthia McClain-Hill, the L.A. Board of Water & Power Commissioners has guided LADWP in taking action to promote racial equity. The initiatives include completing a comprehensive racial equity action plan with significant, meaningful recommendations to improve the department, launching a workforce development initiative that creates good paying jobs and career opportunities for historically disadvantaged communities, and spearheading LA100 Equity Strategies – a comprehensive study that builds on the LA100 renewable energy study completed earlier this year, to ensure all Angelenos, especially residents in communities of color benefit, from a just transition to 100% renewable energy.
“As a city, we have to translate the ideal of environmental justice into action, and that work starts with our own government,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Equity isn’t just a value you inject in a policy or a program — it’s a prism through which we refract every single one of our decisions. I’m proud to see LADWP has taken this Executive Directive to heart and set an example for utilities across the country to follow.”
“The department’s work around racial equity since Mayor Garcetti issued Executive Directive 27 has been nothing short of breathtaking and it’s something that I am very proud of,” said LADWP Board President Cynthia McClain-Hill. “I have to give full credit for this effort to the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets all over the country during the social justice protests of 2020. It really lit a fire under everyone, and it lit a fire under me to advance a comprehensive strategy to address racial equity at the nation’s largest City-owned utility.”
Executive Directive 27 created a City of Los Angeles Racial Equity Task Force, including representatives from every department, to provide feedback on these efforts, identify additional goals, and form working groups to help advance diversity in public service. Through the Mayor’s executive directive, the City has also undertaken a study of racial disparities in City hiring, promotion, and contracting to gain a deeper understanding of the impacts of these inequities and inform the City’s ability to set policy priorities.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we not only kept the water and power flowing, we also began a thorough review of our operations and identified ways we can ensure we are meeting the needs of all of our customers across our economically and culturally diverse city,” said Martin Adams, LADWP General Manager and Chief Engineer. “It has been an extraordinary collaboration, led by the Mayor and our Board in partnership with myself and members of our staff, and one that we look forward to continuing through the hiring of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer and by advancing other key equity strategies.”
More about LADWP’s Response to the Mayor’s Directive on Equity in City Government:
Diversity Equity & Inclusion Study & Action Plan
LADWP undertook a comprehensive racial equity study among its workforce and developed a racial equity action plan to strengthen its workforce, supplier diversity, economic development and small business community engagement, and Equal Employment Opportunity programs, which included a thorough analysis of department operations, practices, culture and procedures.
Establishing the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
LADWP established an office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), and in the next month, will hire its first ever Chief DEI Officer who will report directly to LADWP General Manager and Chief Engineer, Martin Adams. The Chief DEI Officer will serve as the senior racial equity advisor to the General Manager, Board of Water and Power Commissioners, and LADWP leadership and serve as a catalyst to leverage best practices and resources across LADWP to promote and create a thriving culture of equity and inclusion across the entire utility.
Workforce Development & Expansion of the Utility Pre-Craft Trainee Program
The Board has also launched a workforce development initiative in collaboration with LADWP’s labor partners and local colleges, focusing initially on expanding the successful Utility Pre-Craft Trainee (UPCT) Program, an “earn while you learn” program, which provides a pathway for Angelenos to good-paying middleclass, green collar jobs. Due to the expected retirement of an aging workforce, LADWP expects to fill about 3,000 positions over the next five years. These jobs include meter readers, maintenance and construction helpers, lineworkers, water utility workers, security officers, custodians and many more. UPCTs, who make a starting salary of $19/hr plus a healthcare subsidy of $7/hr can also work in building repairs, electrical substation maintenance, the home energy improvement program, test labs, landscaping, and water conservation, among many others. The UPCT program was recently the subject of an academic study by Dr. Virginia Parks, professor and chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Public Policy at UC Irvine, which found the program to be a national model for other utilities and government employers.
LA100 Equity Strategies: Ensuring All Angelenos Benefit from a Just Transition to 100% Renewable Energy
As LADWP completed the recently released LA100 Study, which identified paths for LADWP to achieve 100% renewable energy and a carbon free grid, it became apparent that much more work needed to be done to ensure that Angelenos who have been historically economically disadvantaged have access to the customer programs and initiatives that will help them not only reduce their carbon footprint, but also save money on their utility bills and fully participate in the green economy.
Historical data measured through LADWP’s equity metrics initiative show the disparities in participation in underserved and low-income neighborhoods in programs such as customer rooftop solar, electric vehicle rebates and charger installations, smart thermostat rebates, and other programs designed to help customers save energy and money. As LADWP expands these programs and adds many more, we must ensure that our customers who are impacted the most by poor air quality and have the least ability to afford higher electric bills, are able to benefit from them.
Recognizing that LADWP’s charge goes beyond achieving 100% renewable energy and must include supporting our community by reducing carbon emissions in ways that build and uplift the quality of life for everyone, Board President Cynthia McClain-Hill worked with LADWP’s Power System and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) to develop a first in the nation study to analyze ways that will achieve community-driven equitable outcomes.
The comprehensive study will be led by NREL working in close cooperation with the Luskin Center for Innovation at UCLA. It will also be community-driven, with a Steering Committee formed to identify desired clean energy transition outcomes; provide feedback as the study progresses and to provide support for implementation of the LA100 Equity Strategies.
“LA100 and LA100 Equity Strategies will show the world that we can achieve 100% renewable energy that is reliable and affordable, create jobs and opportunities and engage our customers in being part of the solution, while building a stronger and more vibrant Los Angeles,” Board President McClain-Hill added.
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