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Angelenos have a few more weeks to submit written comments on how to reform the embattled Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP), following months of ongoing concerns about electricity rate increases, accountability and management issues.
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles City Council introduced several proposals for better oversight of the DWP. City Council President Eric Garcetti, 13th District, also has a plan to put a City Charter amendment on the March 2011 ballot to establish an independent DWP customer advocate’s office.
Garcetti’s office has received hundreds of letters and e-mails, about the need for DWP reform. His office will take written comments through October.
While the DWP management has taken some steps to improve the utility, more needs to be done, said Yusef Robb, communications director for Garcetti.
“We believe the DWP shouldn’t be in charge of reforming the DWP,” Robb said.
In April, DWP commissioners voted to raise electricity rates by 4.8 percent — about $4 a month on the average household utility bill. The rate was less than the increase approved by the DWP the previous month, but was vetoed by the city council. As a result, the DWP threatened to withhold $73 million it had promised to the city.
After the conflict, city officials recommended that the public review several options for oversight, which will be included in a city staff report back to the city council in October.
Robb said Garcetti is hoping to establish a “robust office” that would address governance and oversight issues, and provide neutral analysis to the public. DWP would also be in charge of paying for these positions, which include an ombudsman — an impartial and unbiased fully independent advocate to provide independent analysis on future proposals for rate increases. The position would also be tasked with increasing the number of households in DWP’s discount payment programs, and would also review how the department is reaching out to its low income, senior and disabled customers to determine if they qualify for discounts.
The plan also calls for a ratepayer advocate would report to the Board of Water and Power Commissioners, the City Council and the Office of the Mayor. City officials believe this position would address a lack of transparency and responsiveness by the DWP, which has left customers disenfranchised.
The Inspector General position would independently review and report on operations and management actions of the DWP. The position would have access to all records, personnel meetings, key documents and contracts and would then report findings to the public.
The Energy and Environment Committee and Rules and Elections Committee will hold its final public hearing about the DWP reform in San Pedro, Monday at 6 p.m., at the Port of Los Angeles Administration Building, 425 South Palos Verdes Street.
For more information or to submit a comment, visit www.cd13.lacity.org.
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