Greening the LA Power Grid: The Role of Utility Regulatory Models in Promoting Grid Modernization and Distributed Energy Resources in Los Angeles

Project Summary

Los Angeles demands a dramatic transformation of the electricity sector to replace conventional energy generation with renewables -- at multiple scales -- and a parallel process to electrify significant portions of the transportation sector in order to fully realize a renewable energy future for the region. A substantial part of this effort requires modernizing the local distribution systems that deliver electricity directly to L.A. County residents. Los Angeles includes two major utilities, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and Southern California Edison (SCE). Using LADWP and SCE as case studies, this project evaluates their efforts to transform the electricity system in the region to a renewable future with an electrified grid. These two utilities are governed under very different governance models and face different constituencies, regulatory authority and funding structures. Modernizing the distribution system further requires significant investment in overhauling existing infrastructure and deploying new technologies to enhance the intelligence of the system  -- the promise of the so-called smart grid. These investments will enable two-way communications between customers and their electricity providers, which is critical for dynamic pricing and demand response. They will also accommodate the growth and increasing diversity of customer-side generation and storage and widespread deployment of electric vehicles. This project aims to see whether and how already enacted policies are being implemented on the ground, whether the policies are working, are in need of reform or could be enhanced, and to see whether new policies are needed to help speed the transition.

Research Team

Ann Carlson
School of Law

Other Information of Interest

Project image of electric towers


Award Year