Friday, April 06, 2007

Preparing for Summer Heat

During the summer of 2006, we witnessed the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Los Angeles. The intense heat and growing power demand overloaded the power grid. Nearly 80,000 DWP customers found themselves without power on some of the warmest days of the year, affecting their homes, their businesses, and in some cases, their lives. We all need to begin preparing to do our part to ensure that these types of outages don't happen again.

The solution is three-pronged. First, we need to upgrade our aging infrastructure. Last year's outages were caused when 303 electrical transformers failed. Since then, DWP has upgraded more than 1300 failed or failing transformers. Though the replacement of these is an important first step, the 40-year replacement cycle for the more than 126,000 transformers throughout the city is not nearly enough to accommodate Los Angeles' increasing demand. We need reliable power service to all our customers, and we need a skilled workforce to ensure that very reliability.

Secondly, we need to collectively reduce our electricity use. If every household in Los Angeles were to replace one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL), we could shut down an entire coal-fired power plant (DWP is planning to deliver two CFLs to the door of every customer this summer). We can all do things in our everyday lives to reduce our demand.

Finally, we need to effectively communicate with the public before, during, and after outages. We need to warn residents when the hottest days are coming and encourage them to use less electricity those days. We need a reliable customer service center to inform communities affected by outages and respond to calls. And we need to be prepared with information on cooling centers and back-up power and water supplies in case of outages.

We all have a part in preventing outages. As we gear up for the summer of 2007, be aware of what you can do to reduce your energy consumption