SoCalGas offers grants to local cities for climate resiliency

Grant will award three local governments in the utility’s service territory $50,000 to help prepare for climate-change risks

LOS ANGELES – Coming off weekends of record-breaking temperatures, and extremely unhealthy air quality, it seems a utility company’s offer to grant local cities funding to increase climate change resiliency is a hot topic.

On Sunday, Aug. 23, Fresno, Merced and Hanford had high temperatures that topped 100-year-old records. An excessive heat warning had been in affect for most of the weeks before and after.

Leading up that weekend, Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) announced Aug. 10 it will again award Climate Adaptation & Resiliency Grants to local cities to support efforts to increase resiliency in the face of climate change risks such as wildfires, floods, extreme heat, drought, sea level rise, and other major weather events. The competitive grant program provides $50,000 each to three municipalities in the SoCalGas service territory and is designed to help cities and counties reduce the impact of climate change-related threats. The application process opened last week.

“Collaboration between utilities and municipalities is key to resiliency when preparing for climate events such as wildfires, earthquakes and floods,” said Andy Carrasco, vice president of strategy & engagement and chief environmental officer at SoCalGas. “The natural gas infrastructure is critical to the resiliency of the energy supply during natural disasters and as we work to implement our vision for a 21st century energy system, we look forward to providing affordable and cleaner energy to cities while helping them maintain resiliency.”

An advisory panel of planning and sustainability experts from the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability (LARC) and the American Planning Association-California Chapter (APA-California) will assist with the selection of the winning applications from across Southern and Central California.

“As shapers of the built environment, planners recognize our critical role in helping the communities we serve prepare for the risks associated with climate change,” said Ashley Atkinson, president-elect of the American Planning Association’s California Chapter. “We’re grateful to SoCalGas for helping local cities elevate climate adaptation among competing priorities by providing grant funding for essential plan updates.”

Municipalities embarking on a Hazard Mitigation Plan Update, Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Plan, or incorporating climate change impacts into the Safety Element of their General Plan are eligible to apply. Grant proposals will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  • Disadvantaged communities: SoCalGas encourages applicants to address climate vulnerabilities in disadvantaged communities.
  • Collaboration: Reflect coordination and partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders (energy/water utilities, transportation, housing, etc.).
  • Co-benefits: Identify potential co-benefits of the adaptation work, such as benefits to public health, air quality, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and the economy.

The annual grants will be funded by shareholders and will not impact natural gas bills. The deadline to submit proposals is September 30, 2020.

Last year, the City of Loma Linda, the City of Malibu and Los Angeles County were awarded the three SoCalGas adaptation and resiliency grants.

Los Angeles County is utilizing its grant to prepare an Adaptive Capacity Assessment for disadvantaged communities in unincorporated Los Angeles County, which will inform and be incorporated into the County’s Safety Element Update. The City of Loma Linda is making use of its grant to update its local hazard mitigation plan as well as the Safety Element of its General Plan. Finally, Malibu is applying its grant to create a comprehensive and actionable Community Resilience and Adaptation Plan that will be integrated into the Safety Element of the City’s General Plan.

A study on the impacts of four climate-related disasters on the energy sector found that natural gas infrastructure exhibited significant resilience because it is underground. In addition, the study showed that backup generation powered by natural gas pipelines can provide on-site electricity generation for hospitals, relief centers and other critical facilities during a disaster. A summary of its findings may be found here.

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