Proposal follows Board hearing on extreme heat, its disparate impacts on Angelenos from experts and community advocates
LOS ANGELES (July 28, 2022) — The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Board of Commissioners today proposed a new ‘Cool LA’ initiative to address extreme heat impacts faced by homeowners and renters when temperatures exceed 90° Fahrenheit and heat indexes (air temperature plus relative humidity) exceed 105° F.
‘Cool LA’ will enable LADWP customers to purchase or replace various types of cooling units, including window and room air conditioners at reduced cost to lower extreme heat indoor temperatures to a safe level. ‘Cool LA’ will also provide low-income customers with extreme heat electricity bill payment plan options to help them manage higher power costs for using air conditioning during the year’s hottest days and nights by spreading their bill across multiple months, and will partner with community-based organizations to spur program participation and raise awareness of ways LADWP can help residents stay cool, while managing typically higher electricity costs during the Summer months.
LADWP Board President Cynthia McClain-Hill said, “Let’s be clear, no one living in the City of Los Angeles should be allowed to suffer a heat-related death or suffer a major health-related emergency triggered by extreme heat. We know the risks. Now it is time to apply commonsense solutions to what is expected to be a growing public health weather and climate change concern. That is why we have directed LADWP staff to develop a sensible program that will help our customers who are most impacted by extreme heat”.
‘Cool LA’ would provide our customers with access to portable room air conditioning units through DWP’s rebate program. Room air conditioners would enable our customers to better regulate indoor temperatures in their homes and apartments that lack central air conditioning systems or window-mounted air conditioners. These room air conditioners can provide immediate extreme heat relief during the day and high temperature relief during overnight hours,” Board President McClain-Hill said.
The proposal followed public testimony from City Plants, a local nonprofit partnering with LADWP on neighborhood tree planting efforts to increase temperature reducing shade areas in neighborhoods throughout the City. Representatives of Pacoima Beautiful and Enterprise Community Partners provided testimony on the impacts of extreme heat on seniors and youth, particularly those living in low-income disadvantaged communities and discussed the way extreme heat impacts Angelenos differently depending on where you live, driven significantly by the inequity of tree canopy across the city, a result of the history of redlining policies that discouraged investment in neighborhoods across the City where People of Color have historically rented or bought homes. Testimony was also provided by representatives from Pacoima Beautiful and Enterprise Community Partners who provided insights into the community impacts of extreme heat and potential policy solutions.
Many customers, especially the low-income and elderly, are hesitant to use air conditioners due to the cost of running them, creating a significant health risk. To address this concern, LADWP will soon offer a level bill pay option for customers that will enable them evenly spread out the cost of electricity over several months, reducing the impact of a higher electric bill from the use of air conditioning during the summer months.
Board Vice-President Cynthia Ruiz said, “We know the Angelenos who are most impacted by extreme heat. They are the low-income residents and the medically fragile who typically live in communities such as the East San Fernando Valley, Hollywood, Boyle Heights, and Central and South LA. All face a worsening heat emergency and we need to use commonsense solutions to assist them. Making air conditioning more affordable and helping customers spread out the cost of running them is one way our City’s public utility can help our customers beat the heat and stay safe.
LADWP has an array of existing programs that address short-term and long-term climate change induced extreme heat that would be included in the ‘Cool LA’ initiative. These programs help LADWP residential and commercial customers to quickly and easily access current benefits that help them overcome the health risks associated with extreme heat, achieve greater heat mitigation efficiencies, and increased air conditioning system effectiveness.
Among the LADWP efforts that would be incorporated into ‘Cool LA,’ include the department’s community-based tree planting program, undertaken with local nonprofit City Plants, that provides shade trees to residents and property owners to create tree canopies that increase shade area to reduce temperatures in L.A. neighborhoods and communities plagued by extreme heat.
In addition, ‘Cool LA’ would include the department’s array of heat mitigation and customer energy management efforts: air conditioning optimization program, home energy improvement program, consumer energy efficiency appliance rebate program, efficient product marketplace program, comprehensive affordable multifamily retrofits program, cool pavement program, and power savers program.
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