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LADWP Approves Pilot Program To Speed Construction and Lower Development Costs For Affordable Housing

The Board’s “Project PowerHouse” pilot program would end requirement that developers of 100% affordable housing pay for power infrastructure upgrades and implement plans for faster power design services for affordable housing builders to align LADWP policy with Mayor Karen Bass’s homeless and affordable housing priorities.

Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commission unanimously approved a motion directing Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) staff to develop measures to cover the substantial cost of public right-of-way power infrastructure upgrades for 100% affordable and permanent supportive housing developments in Los Angeles, and accelerate the utility’s processes and schedules for identifying an affordable housing developer’s precise power services needs.

“This is an important motion,” said Mayor Bass. “We know that accelerating and lowering the costs of affordable and permanent supportive housing projects are essential to our agenda to urgently increase housing production in Los Angeles and save lives. We must continue to take bold action to confront this crisis.”

Under the newly-approved “Project PowerHouse” pilot program, developers with pending affordable housing projects – undertaken in accordance with Mayor Bass’ recently issued emergency declaration – would work closely with LADWP staff regarding their 100% affordable housing project’s expected power needs.

Under the pilot program, public right-of-way power system infrastructure improvement financial costs currently paid by affordable housing developers would be covered by LADWP through Project PowerHouse, saving developers substantial sums that typically elevate the cost of building affordable housing units.

 “LADWP has a duty to address our City’s homeless emergency and support Mayor Bass in her administration’s efforts to fast-track the construction of new housing to help get Angelenos the homes they desperately need. Project PowerHouse would be a solid, substantive step in that direction,” said Board President Cynthia McClain-Hill.

Project PowerHouse would achieve three objectives: (1) Eliminate costs for routing power to the selected development projects – commonly referred to in infrastructure terms as a “line extension” – that otherwise would be paid by a developer. (2) Determine power needs for 100% affordable housing developer faster through up-front coordination with a developer’s architects, and (3) Significantly shorten the time frames for LADWP approvals of a development’s on-site electric service plans.

Winifred Yancy, Director of LADWP Power New Business and Electrification said, “A lack of speed and sticker-shock costs can kill the best-laid plans for proposed 100% affordable housing developments. Project PowerHouse will tackle both ends of that housing development dynamic to help bring 100% affordable and permanent supportive housing on-line faster by speeding the pace of power design permitting, coupled with low-cost or no-cost investments for required infrastructure.”

The Board’s Project PowerHouse motion directs LADWP staff to do the following:

  • Create a Power New Business Division Task Force to support all 100% affordable and permanent supportive housing projects.
  • Provide planning guidance through pre-development meetings to help identify scope of work, including possible line extensions, on-site infrastructure requirements, and clearances, as well as the overall electric service process.
  • Reduce the preliminary project review phase to 10-days.
  • Propose process improvements and expedited timelines on specific project activities throughout the project’s lifecycle.
  • Complete electrical equipment drawings for on-site equipment within 60+/- calendar days for Service Planning and 90+/- days for customer station design once plans have been received and equipment locations have been agreed upon. This will require all 100% Affordable Housing, Permanent Supportive Housing, or shelter projects to move to the top of service planning queues.
  • Prioritize all Electric Service Representative inspections.
  • Approve overtime, weekend, and holiday work to support Mayor Bass
  • Coordinate all unhoused projects including installing meters within 5 business days after all meter releases have been obtained.