LA100 Equity Strategies. Chapter 12: Distribution Grid Upgrades for Equitable Resilience and Solar, Storage, and Electric Vehicle Access

Bryan Palmintier, Sherin Ann Abraham, Kwami Senam Sedzro, Jane Lockshin, Gayathri Krishnamoorthy, Kapil Duwadi, Patricia Romero-Lankao, Nicole Rosner, Greg Bolla

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


The LA100 Equity Strategies project integrates community guidance with robust research, modeling, and analysis to identify strategy options that can increase equitable outcomes in Los Angeles' clean energy transition. As Los Angeles transitions toward clean energy, existing distribution grid infrastructure will need to be updated and expanded to support reliable service during routine operations, enable interconnection with distributed energy resources and electrified loads, and provide access to energy-related services during disasters. This chapter focuses on equity in distribution grid upgrades, reliability, and resilience in Los Angeles. Specifically, NREL performed grid upgrade and resilience analyses using a detailed model of the distribution grid and income-differentiated household load profiles, electric vehicle (EV) adoption patterns, distributed solar adoption, and grid reliability to explore two key questions to inform how the City of Los Angeles can ensure a resilient and reliable distribution grid for all communities during the clean energy transition: Where can distribution system upgrades can be prioritized to enable equitable access to, and adoption of, clean energy technologies and how can Los Angeles provide equitable, resilient access to electricity-related services (e.g., health care, food) during disaster events like earthquakes and flooding? The electric distribution system is the "last mile" of the grid, linking the multistate bulk power system with customers; new loads, including EVs; and distributed energy resources, such as customer and community solar and storage. This analysis focuses on the 4.8-kilovolt (kV) system, including service transformers that represent the utility-side of the grid connection for most residential customers. Chapter 17 looks at the customer-side of the grid connection with a focus on electric panel upgrade needs. The transition toward clean energy can put additional stress on the distribution system from distributed energy resources and electrification - especially EVs and increased use of electricity for heating, cooling, cooking, and hot water. This stress, measured here as the number of equipment overloads and voltage violations, correlates strongly to grid reliability and therefore is used as a proxy for understanding additional upgrades needed and to help ensure equitable access to electrification and distributed energy resources. NREL also conducted community resilience analysis to examine customer-level access to both electricity and a larger range of services, such as hospitals and grocery stores during a disaster. This analysis explicitly considers equity to understand differences in current resilience and resilience strategies to effectively improve critical services access for all Angelenos. Research was guided by input from the community engagement process, and associated equity strategies are presented in alignment with that guidance.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages90
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A40-85959


  • access
  • distribution grid
  • electricity
  • equity
  • Los Angeles
  • reliability
  • resilience


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