Bass, City Council members wrap up Washington DC trip

As Mayor Karen Bass and a delegation of six City Council members concluded three days of meetings with national leaders in Washington D.C. Wednesday, Bass announced that the L.A. Department of Water and Power will receive a $48 million federal grant to expand and strengthen clean energy.

"Thank you to the Biden administration for continuing to lock arms with us to deliver for the people of Los Angeles," Bass said in a statement Wednesday.

"Last week, California received more than $1 billion in funding for the nation's first clean hydrogen hubs and today, the city of Los Angeles has been awarded $48 million which will help us ensure that all Angelenos have access to affordable and reliable clean electricity at all times," she added.

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The delegation -- including Council President Paul Krekorian and council members Bob Blumenfield, Eunisses Hernandez, Heather Hutt, Traci Park and Hugo Soto-Martinez -- met with White House officials and members of California's congressional delegation.

During Wednesday's meeting with Energy Under Secretary of Infrastructure David Crane, the city leaders discussed the new funding and how to further partner to protect the environment.

The $48 million is part of a $10.5 billion investment under the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships program to "enhance grid flexibility, improve the resilience of the power system amid extreme weather and climate change and ensure the city has access to affordable, reliable and clean energy," according to the Department of Energy.

Additionally, the grant will help LADWP create a "single platform" on which the agency can distribute energy resources such as electric vehicles, EV chargers, energy storage, solar photovoltaic systems and "demand-response" infrastructure to better support the grid.

According to Bass' office, these improvements will allow the department to "quickly re-balance" the electrical system after extreme climate events such as wildfires, heat waves or tropical storms.

"This funding is a major investment by the federal government to help LADWP build a resilient and equitable clean energy future," Cynthia McClain-Hill, DWP board president, said in a statement.

"The support from the U.S. Department of Energy will be instrumental in continuing to achieve our mission to provide all our customers, especially those in underserved communities, with access to clean, reliable power," she added.

The delegation also met with members of Congress on Capitol Hill to finish up its last day in Washington.

On Tuesday, the group met with Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge, Sen. Alex Padilla and Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Los Angeles.

During the those talks, city officials were informed that L.A. could be at risk of losing more than $100 million in Veteran Affairs benefits because Congress wants to "claw back" money to balance the federal budget — but that a "legislative fix could save it," Bass told KNX News.

That fix appears to be already in the works, following the delegation's meeting with Padilla, as well as with members of the L.A. area's congressional delegation.

According to a representative from Bass' office, whether that federal money will remain untouched by Congress will be determined in the near future.

Bass previously said "follow up" will signify whether the meetings held during the trip were successful — whether new initiatives come online or existing initiatives are promoted or enhanced.

Los Angeles has a quarter-million veterans, and too many of them are living on the streets, Krekorian told City News Service on Tuesday. The talks with McDonough served as an opportunity to speak in depth about how to best provide job opportunities, housing and other services for veterans, he added.

Additionally, council members said talks with Fudge were "productive."

"We learned that many cities have not utilized their (housing) vouchers," Bass told KNX. "So, needless to say, I wanted to be the first in line to make sure that L.A. gets any unused vouchers that other cities don't need."

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"... I'll tell you why," she added. "There isn't any city around that is dealing with the numbers (of homelessness) that we're dealing with."

Krekorian, meanwhile, said, "With regard to HUD, we had discussions about hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding related to housing the unhoused and providing greater affordability."

The council president also reiterated the importance of the delegation's trip to advocate on behalf of the city, because "nature abhors a vacuum, and so does Washington."

"If you are not here, and if you're not advocating for the people of Los Angeles, then somebody else will be here advocating for the people of other cities," Krekorian said. "So in order to make sure that Los Angeles is treated fairly and equitably, it's important that the leaders of our city be here to have those face-to-face discussions."

Meetings concluded Wednesday evening, and while Bass will return Thursday morning, some council members planned to leave that same night and others the following morning, according to Bass' office.

Bass and council members stayed at a hotel near the White House, and will return to L.A. just as they arrived -- traveling on economy tickets, according to Bass' office. The funds for the trip came from their respective offices.

As a result of the trip, the City Council canceled its regularly scheduled meetings for Tuesday and Wednesday. The council will resume meetings Friday.