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Electric Rate Hikes Not Happening for at Least 3 Months as DWP Board & City Council Stand Off

Photo by C-Ali via Flickr
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The dramatic saga over Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's carbon surcharge plan was halted last night when the Los Angeles City Council late last night unanimously voted to reject the second rate power rate hike in two weeks. By state law, any changes to rates can only be set on a quarterly basis and that deadline was last night . That means LADWP customers expecting to see higher bills this month won't, but the debate over rate hikes will continue as the next quarter deadline approaches.

It was early last month when Villaraigosa tried to prime the public on a carbon surcharge that would lead Los Angeles to be powered by 20% renewable energy by the end of 2010. To achieve that goal, the Board of Water & Power Commissioners voted in a 0.8-cent per kilowatt hour rate hike, equivalent to at least an 8.8% increase on bills. But the City Council asserted jurisdiction over the matter--a move in which they can only approve or reject the rate hike, but not change it--and ultimately vetoed it. On Tuesday, the group recommended a modest rate hike of 0.6 cents per kilowatt hour, a 4.5% increase. Then the Board took up the recommendation Wednesday afternoon, deciding to approve a 0.7-cent per kilowatt hour hike, saying it was a compromise, despite warnings from Councilmembers that it would be rejected. Holding true to that promise the Council stood ground last night, unanimously rejecting the Board's "compromise."

"No proposal before the city has drawn as much anger as I've seen from this. I have heard from people who have never been involved in City Hall politics," Council President Eric Garcetti told the board at their meeting.