Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power‘s proposed electricity rate increases are “just and reasonable” and should be approved by the agency’s board, a ratepayer advocate said Friday in a report.

The report issued by the Office of Public Accountability, led by Ratepayer Advocate Fred Pickel, also noted that the 21 percent average increase over the next five years — or an average 3.86 percent increase annually — is “less than what is needed” and the utility’s power system “will continue to be challenged to perform activities at planned levels.”

A typical, single-family home that uses 500 kilowatt-hours per month — putting them in “zone 1” — could see a $12 increase on their monthly bills after five years of increases, the OPA said. Monthly bills for such households would rise from the $76-$78 range to between $80 and $82 after one year, and eventually going up to about $90 per month after five years, according to the report.

The rate hikes would mean that LADWP power revenue would eventually grow to $4.22 billion in fiscal year 2019-2020, up from $3.45 billion in fiscal year 2014-2015, according to the OPA’s report.

The OPA also raised concerns that there would be inadequate staffing “for the growing levels of planned capital project expenditures, in part due to the anticipated personnel retirements and constraints on outsourcing.”

LADWP officials issued a statement saying they are “pleased” with Pickel’s assessment of the proposed rate hikes, which are being proposed in order to pay for the replacement of aging infrastructure needed to keep electricity service reliable.

The rate hikes — if approved by the DWP board, the City Council and mayor — would “allow us to continue the transformation of our power system to a clean energy future that protects the environment, while complying with regulatory mandates,” DWP officials added.

The proposed electricity rate hikes are expected to be considered Tuesday by the Board of Water and Power Commissioners. If approved, the proposal will be sent along with proposed water rate hikes to the City Council and the mayor for consideration.

–City News Service

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