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First of Four Electricity Rate Hikes for 2010 Approved

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Photo by Omar Omar via Flickr

Photo by Omar Omar via Flickr
Your LADWP electricity bill will likely be increasing April 1st to help the nation's largest municipal utility cover its bills and build its renewable energy portfolio, thanks to a unanimous vote yesterday by its board. The vote affirms a 0.8 of a cent per kilowatt hour increase that can only be denied by the Los Angeles City Council if it chooses to--and it will--assert jurisdiction over the manner (note that the council only has power to deny board moves, but not the ability to tweak language or rates).

At issue is the department's bond rating as a downgrade could cost the utility even more. Also, by not hitting 33% renewable energy by 2020, LADWP would face fines. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wants to be at 40% by that year.

A few issues are making this move controversial:

  • The approval means an 8.8% to 28.4% increase in bills across the city. Some, including businesses like the LAUSD, fear the affordability of this.
  • Some claim the plan fails to address how and when the city will ween itself of coal.
  • Others have issue with the transparency of this week's move. The language of the action wasn't available until late Tuesday or Wednesday. The board voted on Thursday in a meeting that wasn't posted 72 hours in advance (they claimed it as a "special meeting" even though the rate increase vote was expected for weeks).
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In the end, the move towards renewable energy is much needed. And even with transparency issues aside, how much controversy would this draw? The positive is that this should force Angelenos to think more efficiently by using such products and tools as CFLs and Google Powermeter. The negative of that is this: can everyone afford to go green? If not, who will help on next month's bill?