LADWP To End Shutoffs During Extreme Heat and Cold Weather Events

L.A.’s hottest days of the summer season are mere weeks away, and if what Texas is experiencing in terms of unexpected extreme heat is any indication, Angelenos need all the protection they can get as heat storms ramp up and push temperatures above 100 degrees well into September.

      To that end the Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commissioners approved a motion directing the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to suspend collections-related water and power shutoffs for all customers during extreme heat and cold weather events. 

      Under the new policy, when the National Weather Service (NWS) issues an extreme heat or cold weather advisory or warning, LADWP will not shut a customer’s water or power off if they are delinquent on their bill.

      The approval of the motion positions the City and LADWP to be empathetic and health-aware ahead of our coming heatwaves to help our customers throughout our city stay cool during our hottest days of the year.

      “All Angelenos — especially those who depend on AC for their health and medical needs — need protection from the heat and cold,” said Mayor Karen Bass. “As warming trends continue, we need to work together to protect our most vulnerable from extreme temperatures. I thank the Board for enacting this policy to safeguard our families.”

      The newly approved policy extends LADWP’s continued commitment to the protection of health and safety for all LADWP customers, particularly vulnerable residents such as senior citizens, infants, young children, persons with acute medical needs and low-income customers. The Board’s action directs the Department to adopt the issuance of local NWS alerts (e.g., Heat Advisory, Excessive Heat Watch, and Excessive Heat Warning during excessive heat events; and corresponding alerts for extreme cold/frost/freezing extreme weather events) to serve as the department’s official trigger to suspend customer utility shutoffs for bill non-payment.

      “During extreme heat and cold, Angelenos shouldn’t fear that their water or electric service will be disconnected because they couldn’t afford to pay their utility bill,” said L.A. Board of Water and Power Commissioners President Cynthia McClain-Hill.  “As we focus on ‘Leading with Equity’ we have prioritized working with our customers to help them manage their bills, while also beating the heat by offering generous extended payment plans, connecting our low-income customers to assistance programs and offering rebates for portable and window air conditioners that can help them keep their families cool during the hottest summer months.”

      The new policy is a marked departure from the Department’s previous practice, which suspended shutoffs for non-payment when the temperature exceeded 100 degrees. By using NWS alerts, the policy considers other weather-related health risk factors such as heat duration and high overnight temperatures, as well as cold-weather factors during winter months.

      “The DWP Board’s decision to end utility shutoffs during extreme weather events is a crucial and exciting step forward to protecting the health of our communities in a rapidly changing climate,” said Lauren Ahkiam, Climate Campaign Co-Director, LAANE. “Residents shouldn’t have to choose between putting food on the table and having life-saving temperature controls and water access.”

      The move is the latest action on the part of the Board to make equity and access a key part of its mission and to further strengthen LADWP’s Cool L.A. initiative—designed to help customers better manage the impacts of extreme heat cause by climate change. Cool LA includes a key program to help Angelenos beat the heat by providing up-to $225 rebates for income-qualified residents to purchase portable room air conditioners, as well as other air conditioning rebates for all customers.

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