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Greuel Calls BS on LADWP

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Detail of LADWP's downtown headquarters | Photo by Mr Gold via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr

Detail of LADWP's downtown headquarters | Photo by Mr Gold via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
During the height of a heated battle between the L.A. City Council and the L.A. Department of Water & Power earlier this year, City Controller Wendy Greuel announced she would audit the utility to see if they were telling the truth. At issue was a transfer of funds to city hall coffers that is done annually. This year, however, the LADWP balked and threatened to stop the much-needed $73.5 million transfer -- enough to save the city from bankruptcy at the time -- saying their budget would be in trouble if the City Council did not allow an increase in electricity rates, which eventually did happen.Today, she said the LADWP had no reason to make such claims.

“I can say with 100% certainty that the DWP did have the $73.5 million available to transfer to the City, and could have done so without putting itself in any financial jeopardy,” Greuel said. “My audit lays out in detail, that none of the reasons given by the DWP for refusing to transfer the money are supported by facts. As of April 1st, the DWP’s Power Revenue Fund had approximately $752 million dollars in it, more than enough money to transfer the $73.5 million to the City.”

LADWP General Manager Austin Beutner was quick to respond. "Since my appointment just weeks ago as General Manager of the Department of Water and Power, I have made it clear we are moving forward, not looking back," he said in a statement. "We’ve put in place a plan to reduce costs in this budget year by $263 million and we have shared this plan with the City Council, our customers, and the community. These cost savings will help reduce rates."

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Greuel is definitely putting a mark on where the utility is moving forward from. “It’s hard to look at these numbers and not say that the DWP was trying to extort the City Council into passing its proposed ECAF increase," she said. "This audit is clear, there needs to be greater transparency at the DWP. The insulated culture and the lack of accountability in the Department must change. The DWP has lost the trust of the public through this debacle and it will require dramatic steps over the coming months and years to rebuild the confidence of the ratepayers.”

You can read Greuel's letter and report in this downloadable PDF document.