Repower LA is a citywide coalition of community groups, environmentalists, and small businesses anchored by LAANE, SCOPE, and IBEW Local 18 that advocates equitable environmental programs and career-path jobs at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP), the nation’s largest municipally-owned utility.

Repower LA formed in 2011 in response to high unemployment in many of LA’s neighborhoods and our city’s unsustainable reliance on dirty energy. Our goal is to help make clean energy and good jobs at DWP accessible to all Angelenos while helping them lower their bills. A cornerstone of RePower LA’s work is our support for the Utility Pre-Craft Trainee (UPCT) program, which was developed by IBEW Local 18 in partnership with DWP. The pre-apprenticeship program has partnered with our coalition to recruit women and communities of color, including the re-entry population. Participants learn various electrical and water utility skills while earning $16/hour with benefits and get on the path to a career at the DWP.

Our coalition also works to increase investment in clean energy and energy efficiency programs to help the DWP become greener. As part of our vision of progressive systemic change at the DWP, RePower LA successfully pushed for the DWP to institute the new Equity Metrics Data Initiative (EMDI). The EMDI tracks and shares semi-annual data on how well the DWP is serving customers across programs, jobs, and services in low-income communities

Since the pandemic, RePower LA Coalition has been working on protecting low-income Angelenos from the utility debt burden. Since March, Angelenos have had to deal with a health pandemic, economic crisis, and heatwaves. Emerging research shows how COVID-19 is disproportionately killing people of color, especially Black and Latinx Angelenos. Low-income Angelenos are still having to choose between rent, groceries, or their rising utility bills and debt. On Wednesday, October 21, the COVID-19 Ad-Hoc committee, led by Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez, voted to allocate $50 million of CARES Act funding to alleviate the utility debt burden on low-income Angelenos impacted by COVID-19. This amount is unprecedented nationally by any municipal utility.

The Utility Grant Program will use $50 million in CARES Act funding for utility relief by awarding $500 in cash assistance to 100,000 low-income LADWP ratepayers. Eligible customers with accounts in their names would apply to the program online by self-certifying their income and demonstrating a financial impact due to COVID-19. From there, applicants would be chosen through a lottery system, with current Low-Income Discount Program (LIDP) participants receiving priority status.

Unfortunately, the CARES funds in the Utility Grant Program will not be enough to impact the 400,000-plus low-income folks in the City of Los Angeles. We recommend a permanent and comprehensive solution to utility debt. Stay tuned for more information on our plan to create long term energy affordability and good jobs for low-income Angelenos.