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L.A. to Be Powered by 20% Renewables by End of the Year? If Yes, Your DWP Bill Will Increase

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Photo by Pink Dispatcher via Flickr

Photo by Pink Dispatcher via Flickr
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa yesterday unveiled his plan to raise energy rates to make Los Angeles cleaner and greener by having the city powered by 20% renewables by the end of 2010. It goes without saying, it's a proposal rife with controversy. The Mayor touts that most Angelenos will only see a $2.50 increase a month, but there are those who remain doubtful about that claim.

The LA Times avoids using the "$2.50" number, opting to frame it this way: "Households that get their power from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power could see their electric bills go up between 8.8% and 28.4%, depending on where they live and how much energy they use..."

The Daily News uses the number, but reminds us of the controversial Measure B in the same breath: "The proposed monthly increase of $2.50 to $3.50 for the next 12 months would accomplish goals similar to those included in Measure B, the ballot initiative defeated by voters last year."

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In fact, the Daily News already editorialized against it before the plan was offiically released:

He's going to need some fancy figures indeed to explain why Angelenos must pay higher rates after the city has raided hundreds of millions of dollars from DWP coffers to shore up its general fund. After all, the utility could have used that revenue to switch to solar and wind power without putting the burden on ratepayers.

The plan will be voted on this week by the Board of Water & Power Commissioners. The L.A. City Council as the right to affirm jurisdiction, but can only approve or send it back for changes--they have no authority to make changes.

Councilmember Greig Smith, who challenged the water conservation law last summer, supports the concept, but not the timing of this move. "I have a strong and consistent record of supporting sustainable and clean alternative energy and green technology in Los Angeles, including solar power. I have even installed an extensive solar power system in my own home," he told the Daily News. "However, amidst this economic recession, while families are struggling to make ends meet, it is the wrong time for rate increases of any kind."

DWP Acting General Manager S. David Freeman told the LA Times that "nobody's denying that this is a big increase -- at least I'm not."

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The proposal is expected to be heard in the City Council's Environment and Energy committee at 3 p.m. You can listen live here.