Earlier this year, the department warned there could be up to 14 days of rolling blackouts due to the partial shutdown of the Southern California Gas Company's Aliso Canyon storage facility.
"We do not want to burn any diesel fuel at all, and it is really a measure of last resort after everything else has been exhausted," said LADWP Executive Director of Engineering and Technical Services Michael Webster.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District voted 3-1 to grant the LADWP a 90-day exemption from emissions limits at three of its four power plants in Long Beach, Wilmington and Sun Valley.
"We use that natural gas to power our power plants locally, and that helps meet those peak load days for our customers," said Webster.
The SCAQMD explained that although they are aware a major cause of cancer from air pollution is due to burning diesel fuel, it has mostly been burned from sources such as cars, ships and trains, and not in stationery places like a power plant.
The LADWP said it is first focusing its efforts on conservation and other resources.
"We also can configure our system so we have hydropower readily available to meet up emergency needs for power, we have wholesale market opportunities to purchase for our customers," Webster added.
Victoria Muñoz' daughter lives about a mile from the Sun Valley facility.
"I don't think it's very good because all of the fumes are going to come out in the air. And it's really hard for people who have asthma and older people like me," she said.
The SCAQMD said even under the worst case scenario of diesel burning at all three of LADWP's facilities, no air quality standards would be violated.
The LADWP said it will have workshops in the affected communities to hear and address concerns from the public. Meantime, it is also urging residents to conserve energy, especially during peak hours between 2 and 6 p.m.