Across Los Angeles, homeowners, renters, environmentalists, neighborhood councils, and small businesses are excited about greening our city and utility in innovative and cost saving ways. Programs like the Home Energy Improvement Program (HEIP), and the Small Business Direct Install program are helping customers save money on their utility bills, reduce their carbon footprint, and putting their neighbors back to work.
Mr. Wells was able to benefit from one of DWP’s programs, the HEIP Program in getting his home retrofitted to be more energy efficient. But many of his neighbors still lack energy efficiency upgrades and access to clean energy for their homes. The cost of obtaining panels and the condition of the older homes create barriers for many South LA residents who would like to benefit from the growing popularity of renewable energy. His own roof would require costly upgrades to accommodate panels. That’s why programs like HEIP and the proposed Community Solar program are critical for low-income customers like Mr. Wells. Since he can’t afford panels, Mr. Wells is supportive of a Community Solar program that would allow him to apply his low-income discount subsidy towards receiving solar energy with minimal hassle. These programs allow customers like Mr. Wells to contribute to a greener city, while also creating quality job opportunities for young people, one of his key concerns.
Amy, a current UPCT trainee, represents one of the new faces of future DWP workers: women of color. Amy, a mother who was a full-time homemaker, had no background in electrical work or construction before joining the UPCT program. She was a housewife living in the San Gabriel Valley having completed some college courses. She discovered the UPCT program in 2011, after being out of the workforce for many years. Being in the program has been life changing for Amy. From electrical testing to electrical mechanic projects, she has learned valuable skills that will allow her a solid career path forward to work for LADWP or the City. Amy is one of several women who have benefitted from being part of the UPCT Program, one of the most unique national construction based programs that has actively recruited women.
Jorge is one of our coalition’s young, progressive environmental leaders. Through the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), he has joined the coalition to find intersections between greening DWP, weaning LA off of dirty energy, and creating sustainable careers for disadvantaged communities. EDF has been a big supporter of the Home Energy Improvement Program and the proposed Community Solar program because of their ability to allow low-income communities to be a part of the clean energy movement, both as customers and UPCT workers. As part of Repower LA, EDF is fighting for the expansion of clean energy programs at the DWP that would reduce carbon emissions.
Javier, a current trainee and the oldest son of six of undocumented Mexican immigrants, grew up understanding the value of hard work and a tight knit family. The Van Nuys native realized early on that he was never a “school person” and dropped out of school to focus on working to help support his mother and younger siblings. For more than a decade, he worked for minimum wage with no benefits in warehouses, on construction sites, and as a delivery driver. He’s faced his share of adversity, including acquiring criminal record that made it harder to find work. He lost his home to foreclosure during the recession and supported Occupy L.A., which eventually led him to befriend long-time activist Kwazi Nkrumah, who was also a member of the Repower LA Coalition. Javier was all ears when Kwazi told him about the UPCT Program. Javier signed the UPCT book and patiently waited 2 ½ years for his name to rise to the top of the list. He hopes to eventually become an Electrical Mechanic at DWP. His family takes pride in his new path with his little brother surprising him by drawing a picture of him in his DWP uniform for a school project. With his current financial stability — “it’s the highest paying job I’ve ever had” — he can now dream of travels to South America and can take his family out to eat at nice restaurants.