Climate Change in Los Angeles County: Grid Vulnerability to Extreme Heat

Identifying communities most affected by climate change-related heat events to formulate effective and targeted responses.

The Regents of the University of California, on behalf of the Los Angeles Campus

Recipient

Los Angeles, CA

Recipient Location

26th

Senate District

54th

Assembly District

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$383,671

Amount Spent

closed

Completed

Project Status

Project Result

This project was completed in 2018. The final report is available online as part of California's Fourth Climate Change Assessment at [a href="http://www.climateassessment.ca.gov/techreports/docs/20180827-Energy_CC…]. The research team projected peak demand for Los Angeles County due to climate change. An 8-11% increase of substation capacity, DER, or peak load shifting will be needed throughout Los Angeles County to keep substation load factors at or below 1 during the worst-case heat waves by 2060. The team conducted an extensive outreach effort to inform utilities and others. The team is briefing CPUC for R.18-04-019 on strategies and guidance for climate change adaptation. Three journal papers will be published. The South Bay Cities Council of Governments intends to use the electricity demand and grid vulnerability projections in developing their climate action plan.

The Issue

Because Los Angeles County is such a geographically diverse region, the impacts of climate change will be experienced differently across neighborhoods. Understanding the localized effects of climate change and the impacts on communities has been difficult to assess. Research predicts the Los Angeles region will be warmer by 3-5 degrees F annually by mid-century, and will have an increase in the number of "extreme heat days" varying regionally, with some cities experiencing up to 5-6 times their current levels. What is still unknown however, is how and where these increases in temperature will impact the electric grid.

Project Innovation

This project developed a sophisticated description of future electric grid demand, response, and vulnerability due to increased (and prolonged) heat events in Southern California Edison territory under current and future climate scenarios. It will enable innovative grid management and operation strategies and will identify adaptation guidance. Researchers provided the information to local governments, regional and state agencies, utilities, and the general public in tangible, easy-to-understand policy briefs to enhance local and state capacity to respond to potential disruptions in distribution due to climate change.

Project Benefits

The project integrated a set of models in a novel way to link new results on extreme heat events in Los Angeles County with electricity demand projections that respond to these events and then to model how these climate impacts would affect the vulnerability of electricity supply and the transmission and distribution networks. Doing so created a greater level of understanding on where the grid is most vulnerable, which neighborhoods each circuit serves, and what types of adaptation measures may need to be taken by the utility as well as state, regional, and local actors. The project can equally help guide investments in distributed generation that could alleviate pressure on the conventional electricity generation system.

Lower Costs

Affordability

This study could lead to lowered costs for ratepayers by providing utilities and policymakers with new information relevant to where and how to prioritize capital investments in the grid. Results from this project will inform where and how implementation of distributed generation should be prioritized to meet future demand, mitigate risk of component failures and outages, and transition to a more resilient and cost-effective grid.

Greater Reliability

Reliability

This project identified conditions under which grid systems may be vulnerable to capacity shortages and outages due to extreme heat, as well as mitigation options that could prevent such outages. These vulnerabilities were identified for specific census block groups and components within the region. Identifying specific vulnerabilities enables improvements in risk management and long-term planning processes to ensure resource adequacy, demand-side management options, and delivery system capabilities that provide uninterrupted power services. An unanticipated finding revealed the greater energy efficiency of common wall residences and provide greater reliability through reducing demand.

Increase Safety

Safety

Proactive prevention of outages improves safety directly by mitigating potential for explosive fire hazards in oil-based transformers due to power overloading, and indirectly by mitigating potential for major interruptions in other services that depend on electricity. As this analysis was mapped out geographically, it facilitates the identification of and planning for those ratepayer communities at greatest risk.

Key Project Members

Project Member

Marina McLeod

Program Representative

Subrecipients

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Arizona State University

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Match Partners

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County of Los Angeles

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The Regents of the University of California, on behalf of the Los Angeles Campus

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