LA City Council Instructs DWP to Provide List of Upgrades and Timeline for Improvements

Los Angeles City Hall

CITY HALL - Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday directed the Department of Water and Power to provide a list of infrastructure upgrades currently underway, as well as a projected timeline for those upgrades and a review of communications protocols, following a major power outage that left thousands of customers without power during some of the hottest days on record this summer.

Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell (13th Council District) and David Ryu (4th Council District) co-introduced the motion last July, and requested a full accounting of the circumstances that led to the power outages. Last week, the department reported to the Energy, Climate Change, and Environmental Justice Committee on the incident.

During committee, staff provided a comprehensive report on enhancements that are being implemented following a post-incident review. These enhancements pertained not only to the power system, but also in procedures and protocol for communications. You can read the follow up here.

“I want to be sure our own power agency is not caught flat footed like we were during the Summer of 2018,” Councilmember O’Farrell said. “We had a real deficit in a few areas, and our ratepayers need to have a greater understanding of where we can expect these outages in the future, as well as what resources are needed in the future to help mitigate issues the next time we have a severe weather event.”

“What happened during the heatwave of early July was unacceptable - not only a widespread loss of power, but a response that was inadequate and poorly communicated,” Councilmember Ryu said. “I’m happy to see LADWP take steps to improve this, but we need to ensure the progress continues. I’m proud to work with Councilmember O’Farrell to make sure that happens.”

The report showed that LADWP has invested $2.3B  over the last three years as part of the Power System Reliability Plan to rebuild infrastructure and complete proactive maintenance.  This infrastructure work includes 3,018 poles, 950 transformers, and 51.4 miles of underground cable.

Beginning Friday, July 6th, 2018, Angelenos across the city experienced an extreme heat wave that lasted through the weekend.  Record-breaking demand resulted in power outages that affected approximately 10,000 customers by 6 p.m. that Friday night. The number of outages grew and peaked at over 46,000 customers affected by 1 a.m, Saturday, July 7, or about three percent of LADWP’s 1.5 million residential customers.

Communication from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power revealed that peak energy demand was the highest ever for a July day and one of the highest on any day in the city’s history.