The Southern California Gas Co. will award two municipalities $50,000 grants to support local planning efforts to prepare for climate change risks, such as extreme heat, wildfires, drought, sea level rise, flooding and other extreme weather events, the Los Angeles-based utility announced Friday.

“The competitive grant program is designed to help cities and counties reduce the impact of such threats, which are expected to increase over the next decade,” according to SoCalGas, which said the annual grants will be funded by shareholders and will not impact natural gas bills.

An advisory panel of planning and sustainability experts from the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability, Climate Resolve, and the American Planning Association’s California Chapter will select the winning applications from across Southern and Central California.

“Natural disasters, from Hurricane Harvey to the Napa Valley fires, have highlighted the importance of natural gas as a resilient energy resource that provides heat and hot water for homes, and on-site electricity generation for hospitals and relief centers,” said George Minter, SoCalGas’ regional vice president of external affairs and environmental strategy. “Resiliency means not putting all your eggs in one basket and maintaining diverse forms of energy that can help communities recover from climate change-related disasters.”

Ashley Atkinson, director of the American Planning Association Los Angeles, said it’s important to support efforts “to improve community preparedness, resilience, and sustainability in the face of both natural and human-caused hazards. Planners and local governments are increasingly being called upon to address these issues, and this grant program is an important resource for our California communities.”

Grant proposals will be assessed according to the following criteria:

— Collaboration: the extent to which the proposal reflects coordination and partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders such as energy and water utilities, transportation and housing agencies, etc.;

— Disadvantaged Communities: SoCalGas encourages applicants to address vulnerabilities in disadvantaged communities; and

— Co-Benefits: the extent to which the proposal identifies potential added benefits of the adaptation work, such as benefits to public health, air quality, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and the economy.

The deadline to submit proposals is Aug. 15.

SoCalGas, the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States, services 21.7 million customers across 22,000 square miles of Central and Southern California.

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