LOS ANGELES – Following rolling blackouts and power outages that affected thousands of households during recent heat waves, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday called for a comprehensive review of the county’s backup energy systems.
Supervisors Hilda Solis and Kathryn Barger co-authored the motion, which highlighted unplanned outages in East Los Angeles during an early July heatwave.
“Reliable power is critical in this pandemic. While power outages affect all of us, they particularly affect our vulnerable communities of color,” Solis said.
“Our Black and Latinx communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, both in terms of public health and economic security. Power outages, amid heatwaves, only compound these problems.”
Barger — who called for such a study more than a year ago — said the events of this year emphasized the need to be ready for disaster.
“2020 has shown us that we need to protect our systems, our communities, and our infrastructure against potential catastrophe. As the county of Los Angeles is dealing with record heat waves, the COVID-19 global pandemic and other crises, we need to ensure that our energy supply and its infrastructure do not fail us,” Barger said.
“Directing county departments to fast track my request for a study, initially approved by the board in August 2019, is the first step in ensuring that the county’s energy supply is resilient in the face of potential challenges such as natural disasters, international turmoil, power outages, cyber-attacks, transportation disruptions and price spikes.”
The county has no direct authority over local electrical power companies. Southern California Edison is part of the state power grid managed by the California Independent System Operator and regulated by the state’s Public Utilities Commission. The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power is publicly owned and governed by a city board of commissioners.
The Board of Supervisors called for a report back in 90 days, to include findings on whether there is an equitable distribution of backup energy resources to support communities of color during an outage.
The Los Angeles City Council has also asked LADWP to report on the outages that occurred during record-breaking temperatures over Labor Day weekend.