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L.A. Homes Get a Big Energy Makeover





(Andy Holzman/Daily News)

(In today’s Los Angeles Daily News, staff writer Dakota Smith reports on one of the city’s most promising initiatives — an energy efficiency program that is saving consumers money, creating jobs and reducing our energy use. The project, a partnership between the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18 , the union representing the utility’s workers, and the Department of Water and Power, has received strong support from RePower LA, a broad-based coalition that promotes the economic and environmental benefits of energy efficiency.)

Lorraine Cannon stretches every dollar. The 84-year-old lives off a monthly retirement check from L.A County, and she shares her Pacoima house with her granddaughter and three young great-grandchildren.

But now helping to pay the bills is an unlikely source: the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Cannon’s house was picked for an energy efficiency makeover by the department, part of a plan that will ultimately lower her energy and water consumption and her utility bill.

“It’s kind of exciting,” Cannon said, as DWP workers moved through the house, fixing windows and light fixtures. “It makes me feel good that as a senior citizen, I’m being cared for.”

The makeover is part of the DWP’s commitment to expand its energy efficiency program. The department recently committed $12 million to perform makeovers on homes like Cannon’s.

The new funds extend an expired program that was funded by federal stimulus money. Those federal funds paid for the weatherization of 3,400 homes in the last year and a half.

The DWP now hopes to overhaul 6,000 homes or units a year.

“We took the grant program and are using it as a springboard to sustain an ongoing program,” said Michael Coia, assistant general manager at DWP.

At Cannon’s house, new windows were installed, holes in the roof patched, and new shower heads installed.

The work is supported by RePower L.A., which was created in part by the labor-affiliated Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy.

RePower L.A also includes community groups, environmentalists and small businesses, as well as the local DWP union.

The group wants the DWP to increase its energy efficiency, and ultimately reduce the amount of electricity Angelenos use.

And so far the department agrees. Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commissioners approved a plan to nearly double the utility’s energy efficiency goal.

Additionally, the DWP is hiring workers as part of the energy efficiency program to do the installation work.

Executives at RePower L.A. see the work done on Cannon’s house as one part of a larger plan to inspire new thinking about energy use and to reduce the city’s overall carbon footprint.

The program could also serve as a public relations move for the DWP, an agency whose image has suffered in recent years with rate increases.

“For a lot of people, the only time they hear from the DWP is when they get their bill,” said Jessica Goodheart, LAANE director of RePower L.A.

But for Cannon, who worked for 30 years as a nurse for L.A. County, the work is really about shaving the cost of the DWP bill.

Since her great-grandchildren moved in earlier this year, there’s more water use at the house as the young children line up to take showers.

For the last quarter, her DWP bill was almost $200, up nearly $40 from before.

“Hopefully, it will go down,” she said.

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