MWD Commits Billions of Dollars to Gov.’s Delta Water Tunnels

October 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Opponents of a plan for Southern California water users to help pay for a much debated water project supported by Gov. Jerry Brown were on the losing end of the argument Tuesday, when the board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California voted to commit billions to the venture.

The estimated $17 billion project, which is officially known as the California WaterFix, would divert water from the Sacramento River as it enters the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and carry it to existing federal and state pumping stations in the southern part of the delta through two 35-mile tunnels.

Approval of the project ultimately lies with the state’s water boards, and the MWD’s vote does not guarantee that it will be built because enough water districts need to vote in favor for it to move forward. The MWD’s commitment to the project would be about $4.3 billion.

The vote was 28-6 in favor of funding the tunnels, with two abstentions and two members who did not vote.

The vote by the MWD was considered by some observers to be a make-or-break decision on the tunnels, as another major water agency, the Westlands Water District, last month rejected helping to pay for the project. The Coachella Valley Water District Board of Directors voted in favor of the
project Tuesday.

Brown recently said that if the project does not get fully funded, a scaled-down version could be approached.WEB MWD Delta Tunnels

The MWD is a wholesale water supplier which, along with the Los Angeles Aqueduct, accounts for roughly 85 percent of the city’s water supplies, with the total amount depending on the year’s environmental conditions.

The agency is funded through property taxes and the price it charges for its water, so a decision by its board to help pay for the tunnels would affect Los Angeles’ ratepayers and property owners. MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said funding the tunnels would not result in higher taxes because the project would be paid for through the agency’s regular rate structure.

The 38-member MWD board represents each of the district’s 26 member agencies, including five members appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The L.A. City Council has no direct control over the MWD board and can only advise how it votes. Councilman Paul Koretz introduced a resolution on Friday calling on the City Council to officially oppose the project, but it was not voted on before the MWD board vote.

Some environmental groups are opposed to the project, including the Sierra Club and Food and Water Watch, which argue the tunnels could be harmful to the environment and not worth the cost.

“Food and Water Watch is disappointed by Metropolitan Water District’s vote to allocate more than $4 billion toward a wasteful Delta Tunnels project that would force higher water bills and property taxes on Southern California families,” Brenna Norton of Food and Water Watch said. “It is unfair to raise rates for a project that will needlessly make Southern California’s water more expensive, while benefiting corporate agribusinesses that grow excessive amounts of almonds and pistachios in the desert for export.”

 

The tunnels are supported by Brown, who has argued they will help the environment by protecting fish and also securing a more reliable delivery system for the water.

The tunnels would cost L.A.’s ratepayers an average of $1.73 per month in 2017 dollars, according to a report by Fred Pickel, director of the city’s Office of Public Accountability, who acts as a watchdog of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Food and Water Watch has argued the cost will be higher than Pickel is estimating and could raise household water bills from $7 to $16 per month for over 40 years.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta, said the project will raise rate and provide no increased reliability in water service.

“MWD may have won the battle, but we know the tunnels will never be built because economics, science and law will carry us through the permitting processes and litigation, ensuring victory,” she said.

But Charles Wilson, executive director of the nonprofit Southern California Water Committee, said the MWD vote “marks a historic day in ensuring the vitality of the Southern California region.”

“Water is life, and for the many cities in Southern California that depend on the Sierra Nevadas for the water supply, California WaterFix is mission critical,” he said.

Big Pay Hikes OK’d for LADWP Workers

June 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Members of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s most powerful union will see a significant bump in pay, with the City Council’s approval Wednesday of a new contract for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18.

The deal was approved 11-3 despite three council members’ objections to the speed with which it came to the council for a vote, having skipped a committee hearing after the Board of Water and Power Commissioners approved the contract last week.

Councilmen Mitch O’Farrell, David Ryu and Mike Bonin, who cast the dissenting votes, said they felt the process lacked transparency.

“The approval of this plan without greater discussion, public outreach or deeper analysis undermines the public’s trust in their local government,” Ryu said.

Bonin said he learned the details of the deal and that it was coming to a vote though the media

“I’m disturbed, as are a few others, by this process, and there is still information I feel I don’t have,” Bonin said.

Councilman Joe Buscaino, who ultimately voted for the deal, also said he learned of the contract details through the media.

“This process stunk. One cannot assume approval of a contract without proper vetting. We heard about this contract through a number of media reports.

In the five years I’ve been here through city contracts, my office and myself were at least briefed on what to expect,” Buscaino said.

The deal, which has the support of Mayor Eric Garcetti, continues the practice of union workers not contributing toward their health care costs — a benefit not enjoyed by all city workers.

The new contract has been criticized by some as being too generous — to the point that it could cause other city unions to ask for raises — as well as for being fast-tracked to a vote.

The contract gives six raises over five years for the IBEW Local 18’s 9,000 members at a total rate of about 13 percent to 22 percent, depending on the consumer price index. It also ends the union’s $4 million controversial annual contribution to two nonprofits, the Joint Training Institute and the Joint Safety Institute, which have been heavily criticized due to a lack of transparency as to how they were spending and tracking the money.

The contract will cost an estimated $56 million annually, but will not impact the city’s general fund as it will be funded via adjustments to the LADWP’s budget, according to an LADWP commission memo.

Fred Pickle, executive director of the LADWP’s Office of Public Accountability, said because the department routinely comes in under budget each year, the raises would not likely result in higher rates for customers.

When Garcetti ran for mayor in 2013, one of his chief issues was a promise to bring sweeping changes to the LADWP. That pledge made him an enemy of the IBEW, which spent $2 million supporting his opponent, then-City Controller Wendy Greuel. Once elected, Garcetti blocked the approval of a four-year contract with the IBEW so he could renegotiate a new deal that resulted in no raises for the union.

“Public unions are major donors to City Hall political campaigns, so perhaps it should be no surprise if elected officials are reluctant to drive a hard bargain. But this contract could sure use more analysis and public debate,” the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board wrote while also criticizing Garcetti for not driving a harder bargain this time around after his landslide re-election in March.

Interim Chief Administrative Officer Rich Llewellyn said the deal was not a template for future deals with other unions and contended the raises are needed to keep LADWP workers from leaving to work for other cities.

An audit of the LADWP released earlier this year by City Controller Ron Galperin found that the utility spends about $40 million a year on apprenticeship programs that only graduate about 51 percent or fewer of their enrollees, and that many of the graduates go to other utilities to get better salaries.

“This contract moves us in the direction of much-needed reforms, specifically ending ratepayer funding of the two nonprofit training institutes that I audited in 2015, and offering a retention incentive for certain workers who are expensive to train and frequently lured away by private utilities,” Galperin said. “At the same time, I’m not convinced that all of the across-the-board increases were justified by the need to attract and retain employees at the DWP. We must be watchful stewards of ratepayer money.”

Llewellyn said the elimination of the payment to the two institutes was a big win for the city.

When pressed by some council members as to why the city didn’t push harder on healthcare contributions, Llewellyn said, “We pushed on everything … We pushed on everyone, and they pushed back on everyone. And we ended up in the middle with what I believe is a reasonable deal.”

June 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Members of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s most powerful union will see a significant bump in pay, with the City Council’s approval Wednesday of a new contract for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18.

The deal was approved 11-3 despite three council members’ objections to the speed with which it came to the council for a vote, having skipped a committee hearing after the Board of Water and Power Commissioners approved the contract last week.

Councilmen Mitch O’Farrell, David Ryu and Mike Bonin, who cast the dissenting votes, said they felt the process lacked transparency.
“The approval of this plan without greater discussion, public outreach or deeper analysis undermines the public’s trust in their local government,” Ryu said.

Bonin said he learned the details of the deal and that it was coming to a vote though the media.

“I’m disturbed, as are a few others, by this process, and there is still information I feel I don’t have,” Bonin said.

Councilman Joe Buscaino, who ultimately voted for the deal, also said he learned of the contract details through the media.

“This process stunk. One cannot assume approval of a contract without proper vetting. We heard about this contract through a number of media reports.

In the five years I’ve been here through city contracts, my office and myself were at least briefed on what to expect,” Buscaino said.
The deal, which has the support of Mayor Eric Garcetti, continues the practice of union workers not contributing toward their health care costs — a benefit not enjoyed by all city workers.

The new contract has been criticized by some as being too generous — to the point that it could cause other city unions to ask for raises — as well as for being fast-tracked to a vote.

The contract gives six raises over five years for the IBEW Local 18’s 9,000 members at a total rate of about 13 percent to 22 percent, depending on the consumer price index. It also ends the union’s $4 million controversial annual contribution to two nonprofits, the Joint Training Institute and the Joint Safety Institute, which have been heavily criticized due to a lack of transparency as to how they were spending and tracking the money.

The contract will cost an estimated $56 million annually, but will not impact the city’s general fund as it will be funded via adjustments to the LADWP’s budget, according to an LADWP commission memo.

Fred Pickle, executive director of the LADWP’s Office of Public Accountability, said because the department routinely comes in under budget each year, the raises would not likely result in higher rates for customers.

When Garcetti ran for mayor in 2013, one of his chief issues was a promise to bring sweeping changes to the LADWP. That pledge made him an enemy of the IBEW, which spent $2 million supporting his opponent, then-City Controller Wendy Greuel. Once elected, Garcetti blocked the approval of a four-year contract with the IBEW so he could renegotiate a new deal that resulted in no raises for the union.

“Public unions are major donors to City Hall political campaigns, so perhaps it should be no surprise if elected officials are reluctant to drive a hard bargain. But this contract could sure use more analysis and public debate,” the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board wrote while also criticizing Garcetti for not driving a harder bargain this time around after his landslide re-election in March.

Interim Chief Administrative Officer Rich Llewellyn said the deal was not a template for future deals with other unions and contended the raises are needed to keep LADWP workers from leaving to work for other cities.

An audit of the LADWP released earlier this year by City Controller Ron Galperin found that the utility spends about $40 million a year on apprenticeship programs that only graduate about 51 percent or fewer of their enrollees, and that many of the graduates go to other utilities to get better salaries.

“This contract moves us in the direction of much-needed reforms, specifically ending ratepayer funding of the two nonprofit training institutes that I audited in 2015, and offering a retention incentive for certain workers who are expensive to train and frequently lured away by private utilities,” Galperin said. “At the same time, I’m not convinced that all of the across-the-board increases were justified by the need to attract and retain employees at the DWP. We must be watchful stewards of ratepayer money.”

Llewellyn said the elimination of the payment to the two institutes was a big win for the city.

When pressed by some council members as to why the city didn’t push harder on healthcare contributions, Llewellyn said, “We pushed on everything … We pushed on everyone, and they pushed back on everyone. And we ended up in the middle with what I believe is a reasonable deal.”

Breves de la Comunidad

November 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Boyle Heights

(CNS)- La policía de Los Ángeles persiguió a un automovilista desde el Centro de Los Ángeles hasta Boyle Heights el 8 de noviembre. Una persona fue arrestada y dos otros fueron tiroteados.

La persecución comenzó alrededor de las 10:20 a.m. cerca del bloque 300 de la Calle Wall y continuó hacia la autopista 5, hacia el sur de Santa Ana cerca de la Calle Calzona. Fue entonces cuando el vehículo se estrelló, según el Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles.

El vehículo estaba en búsqueda en relación con un delito en un dispensario de marihuana, dijo la policía.

El Sereno

(CNS)- Por casi cinco horas un hidrante cortado derramó agua a causa de un golpe por un motorista en la comunidad de El Sereno el 4 de noviembre.

El choque ocurrió alrededor de las 2:30 a.m. cerca de Klamath Place y la Avenida Eastern, de acuerdo a un comandante del la Estación de Hollenbeck del Departamento de Polícia de Los Ángeles.

El conductor huyó a pie, dejando atrás a un Dodge Gris, describió el sargento.

Un equipo del Departamento de Agua y Energía de Los Ángeles llegó a reparar los daños cerrar el agua.

Highland Park

(CNS)- Los bomberos controlaron un incendio en el nivel superior de un hogar de dos pisos en Highland Park el 5 de noviembre, dijeron las autoridades.

El incidente fue reportado a las 2:32 p.m. en el 125 South Avenue 60, dijo Brian Humphrey, portavoz del Departamento de Bomberos de Los Ángeles.

El incendio fue contenido a las 3:10 p.m, y los dos adultos que fueron evacuados según declinaron recibir cuidado de los paramédicos.

La causa y el monto de pérdida aún está por determinarse, dijo Humphrey.

Este De Los Ángeles

(CNS)- Una rotulo que designa el intercambio de las Autopistas 10 hacia San Bernardino y la 710 hacia Long Beach fue revelado el 8 de noviembre en memoria del comisionado del condado de Los Ángeles, Thomas H. Pohlman.

Una ceremonia tomó lugar en el Biscailuz Center Training Academy en el Este de Los Ángeles.

Pohlman murió por un disparo que un sospechoso le dio durante una lucha mientras era arrestado.

El sospechoso obtuvo el control de Pohlman y le disparó entre los ojos durante la lucha y Pohlman fue declarado muerto en la escena. La esposa de Pohlman, Jenny, estaba embarazada de su hija en el momento de su asesinato.

Working Toward Victory

September 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Hoping to make an impressive showing at the 2017 Academic Decathalon, students from Roosevelt High School spent last Saturday honing their knowledge of World War II history during an LAUSD HIPP Academic Decathlon Workshop sponsored by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and held at LADWP’s John Ferraro Building in downtown Los Angeles. More than 250 students took part in the session. Pictured from left, Leslie Torres, Carlos Gonzalez, Maneri Roman and Adan Robles and coach Jason Yan stand before a map of Europe in 1930 during the workshop.

(Courtesy of LADWP)

(Courtesy of LADWP)

DWP Board Toughens Turf Replacement Rules

August 18, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

The Board of Water and Power Commissioners Tuesday tightened up the criteria for granting turf removal rebates, under which synthetic turf and mulch will  no longer be allowed and more rainfall capture features and plant coverage will be required.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power gives out $1.75 for each square foot of grass lawn that is removed. To be eligible for the incentive under the new rules, projects must:

— not include synthetic turf or mulch;

— feature rainfall capture elements such as infiltration and on-site storage for re-use;
— have landscaping in which native or climate-appropriate plants cover at least 50 percent of the converted area when mature; and
— limit rock, gravel and decomposed granite to no more than 25 percent of the converted area.

The changes also include a recommendation for rebate recipients to use natural or organic weed barriers.

Councilman Paul Koretz pushed for the changes.

“As we continue our essential water conservation rebates, we absolutely need to maximize the bang for our bucks,” he said. “The watershed approach achieves multiple benefits and, spread widely, can help the city reduce its $8 billion stormwater compliance bill.”

The changes are aimed at helping the city reach Mayor Eric Garcetti’s goal of cutting imported water use by 50 percent, and attaining other sustainability goals, according to Koretz’s office.

Extreme Heat Causing Power Outages

June 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Record-setting temperatures in the Southland climbed well past the 100-degree mark on the hottest day of a brutal three-day heat wave, causing widespread power outages, raging wildfires and prompting officials to issue excessive heat warnings.

A Flex-Alert was in effect until 9 p.m. today by the California Independent System Operator (Cal-ISO), the state agency that matches private and public electricity generating resources to the amount of demand.

The heat was blamed for at least some of the outages reported yesterday and today by Southern California Edison. At one point today, more than 20,000 SCE customers were without power, but restorations brought that number down to about 11,600 at 3 p.m., with the majority of those outages occurring in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, a spokesperson said.

One outage in Downey today impacted as many as 13,500 SCE customers, but crews were able to reduce that number to about 2,600 by 3 p.m.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power reported 17 outages in its service area, with nearly 5,000 customers impacted as of 4 p.m. Officials said crews are working to restore power as soon as possible.

SCE officials said most of the outages were caused by equipment failure.

A Flex-Alert is a request for customers to voluntarily conserve electricity, including turning off unneeded lighting, postponing the use of major appliances including washing machines and dryers, and setting air conditioning thermostats to 78 degrees or higher.

The LADWP urged residents to prepare for possible power outages by having flashlights and batteries readily available and keeping a battery-operated radio handy. Officials also recommended that people keep a phone charger in a car to ensure they can contact friends or relatives during an outage, keep a supply of non-perishable food and have a cooler available to use for food that needs to be refrigerated.

A red-flag warning signifying a risk of wildfire will be in effect until 8 p.m. Tuesday in the San Gabriel Mountains and through 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Santa Barbara mountains and south coast, where the 7,892-acre Sherpa Fire continued to burn.

Amid soaring temperatures and bone-dry conditions, a pair of fast-moving brush fires tore through vegetation today in the Angeles National Forest and the foothills above Duarte and Azusa, exploding across more than 2,000 acres. Firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service and the Los Angeles County Fire Department were battling the blazes, but there was no containment as of mid- afternoon.

The National Weather Service warned that very high temperatures, humidity dipping into single digits at times and locally gusty winds will increase fire danger in the area through Tuesday.

Burbank reached 107 degrees at 10:19 a.m. today, topping the record for this day of 106 degrees, set in 2008, according to the NWS. Los Angeles International Airport had a temperature of 95 degrees at 8:43 a.m., topping the 1973 record for this day of 92 degrees, but forecasters say a shift in winds
quickly dropped temperatures at the airport to the upper 70s before it began rising again as the day wore on.

Minor relief was expected in coastal and valley areas beginning Tuesday, but the San Gabriel Mountains and the Santa Clarita Valley were to remain dangerously hot.

“Dangerous heat-related illness is possible, especially for sensitive populations, those conducting outdoor activities, and people without access to air conditioning,” the NWS said.

Dr. Karen Smith, California Department of Public Health director and State Public Health officer, underscored the seriousness of the hazards posed by high temperatures.

“Heat-related emergencies cause dozens of deaths in California each year and prompt thousands of people to seek treatment at local emergency rooms,” Smith said. “In 2006, nearly 200 people died in California from extreme heat. High temperatures need to be taken very seriously. People should protect themselves and watch out for others who might be vulnerable.”

The Department of Public Health recommends that Southern Californians stay safe during the heat wave by:

— keeping an eye on weather forecasts and alerts from local officials;

— learning to recognize heat-related illnesses;

— staying out of direct sunlight and staying hydrated;
— reducing physical activity;
— identifying a cool location — a mall, library, theater or designated cooling center; the Los Angeles Police Department recommends calling 311 within city limits and 211 within county limits to find the nearest cooling station;

— wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing and sunscreen;

— checking on pets, friends, family and neighbors who may be especially sensitive to excessive heat.

Additionally, the NWS notes that anyone overcome by the high temperatures should call 911 because heat stroke is an emergency.

The county agency and NWS forecasters also reminded residents they should never leave people or pets in enclosed vehicles, even for a few minutes.

Animal services officials say pet owners must make sure their animals are kept cool during the heat wave. They should watch for signs of heat stroke, such as fast and noisy breathing, difficulty swallowing and distressed behavior.

If heat stroke is suspected, pet owners should place a cold, wet towel on the back of the animal’s head, and towel-wrapped cold compresses on their back legs and belly. The pet should be immediately taken to a veterinarian to be checked.

L.A. Approves DWP Rate Increases

March 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday tentatively approved hikes to electricity and water rates for Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers.

The council voted 12-2 to concur with the LADWP board to adopt the water and electricity rate increases, which are to be spread out over the next five years.

Because the decision was not unanimous — Councilmen Mitch Englander and Gil Cedillo cast the dissenting votes — the rate proposals will return for a second vote. Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson was not present for the votes.

Under the water rate plan, the average customer will see a 4.76 percent annual increase, amounting to an additional $3 per month. A monthly bill of $57.79 for the typical residential water user would increase to an average rate of $72.90 at the end of the five-year period, according to an example in a staff report.

With the electricity rate increases, the typical single-family household in Los Angeles could see monthly electricity bills go up a total of $12 over five years.

The council only has the ability to affirm or deny the rate hike plans, which were previously approved by the LADWP board comprised of members appointed by the mayor.

The City Council also approved a set of recommendations aimed at helping LADWP to ensure the projected additional revenue will go toward projects and activity that improve or maintain the efficiency and reliability of water and power service.

Councilman Felipe Fuentes, who chairs the Energy and Environment Committee, said Wednesday he has “reservations” about the electricity rate hike plan, but feels “we have to move forward.”

“The consequences of not doing something really outweigh the impacts of what’s being proposed,” he said.

Utility officials say the rate increases are necessary to upgrade aging water pipes, make energy use more reliable and meet environmental mandates, though some in the city have noted that the hikes will not be nearly enough.

“These rate adjustments are frankly minimal” and are aimed at fulfilling environmental, legal and financial obligations, LADWP General Manager Marcie Edwards said.

But without taking steps to reorganize the utility to rein in bureaucratic and other types of inefficiencies, Edwards said she is “not willing to ask our customers owners for more” at this time.

Edwards’ statements come as city leaders are weighing a November ballot initiative to change the governance structure of the LADWP, including bringing in full-time, paid members to the utility’s board.

The rate hike plans have key support from Mayor Eric Garcetti, environmental groups, neighborhood council leaders and business groups such as the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

Noting that he represents some of the poorest areas in the city, Cedillo said he could not vote for another rate increase while the city is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis.

“As Chair of Housing I understand tenants are rent burdened enough, with at least half of all households spending more than 30% of their monthly income on housing, with significant numbers paying more than 50% of their income for housing costs,” Cedillo said.

More than 2,000 letters protesting the rate increase were submitted, according to the city clerk, but they were not enough to constitute a majority opposition to the rate hikes.

The relative ease in preliminarily adopting the increases Wednesday marks a departure from the battle that occurred in 2010 when the LADWP last proposed a major increase to rates.

Councilman Paul Koretz noted that the support for the rate increases is “actually pretty remarkable.”

“We wound up with quite a group of supporters of every stripe, including many that are usually very cranky about this kind of thing,” he said.

Judge Rejects LADWP Proposed Settlement

November 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A judge once again Tuesday declined to accept a proposed settlement meant to resolve tens of millions of dollars in overpayment by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers amid the agency’s troubled $181 million billing system overhaul.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle suggested about a dozen revisions to the settlement deal, which has divided plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the DWP. When the proposed settlement was first submitted to him in September, Berle instructed the plaintiffs to work out a revised deal.

Attorney Jack Landskroner, who negotiated the settlement deal, said he is “confident that with some minor revisions, the settlement will be approved on Dec. 21,” the next scheduled court hearing.

Attorneys for some members of the class-action lawsuit have come out strongly against the settlement terms, saying they contain “fatal flaws” that would limit DWP customers’ ability to challenge the refund amounts, as well as amounts that ratepayers who underpaid may owe.

Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court, who joined the plaintiffs opposing the deal, said the judge “called the city out for not being more transparent about how consumer ratepayers would have to give up almost all claims against the Department of Water and Power under the settlement,”

including ones that go beyond the billing issues themselves.

The judge also pointed out that under the current deal, ratepayers joining the settlement would be giving up their right to sue or litigate, even before knowing if they are getting a refund or would actually owe money, Court said.

The judge also suggested the court should have more say in disputes, according to Court.

“This is the second time the case has been rejected for preliminary approval, which is pretty unheard of,” Court said. “I think the city really needs to be more reasonable before going back for the third time to get approval and needs to give more rights to ratepayers and more due process to

ratepayers.”

Tom Merriman, an attorney with Landskroner’s firm, said attorneys who oppose the deal failed in their efforts to “blow up the settlement.”

Some of the judge’s suggested revisions were “procedural,” while “the more substantive revisions were intended to make it clearer to customers what individual claims they would give up by joining the settlement,” Merriman said.

“The key is that the judge only wants to focus on those specific, non-controversial revisions for the next hearing,” he said.

Merriman also said the court always retained the final say under the original settlement terms and today, Berle requested that point to be made more explicit.

Thousands of DWP customers were issued faulty bills following a problem-filled upgrade of the utility’s billing system, with many of the payment amounts based on estimated, rather than actual, water and electricity use.

The city was hit with several lawsuits by customers contending they were overbilled. Settlement talks led to the proposed deal – announced by one of the attorneys and later confirmed by DWP officials – for distributing credits and refunds to overcharged customers.

But Consumer Watchdog advocates joined attorneys for other members of the class-action lawsuit to push back on the deal proposal, saying it would allow only DWP officials to decide how much to refund ratepayers.

DWP officials and the City Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to the Consumer Watchdog group’s claims.

Landskroner said the settlement would “not only return 100 percent of the overcharges LADWP billed to customers,” but the amounts would be “verified by an independent court-appointed monitor.”

He added that he sympathizes with the consumer advocacy group’s “distrust of LADWP based on past history,” but thinks the “well-intended grassroots group may have been manipulated and misinformed by trial lawyers who have a personal financial interest in obstructing the settlement.”

Consumer Watchdog officials accuse Landskroner, who would be paid $13 million in legal fees under the settlement, of designing a deal that would be financially lucrative for him despite only having done “87 days of work.”

Boyle Heights Business Joins Solar Power Grid

July 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A Boyle Heights rooftop with solar panels capable of generating 300 kilowatts of energy is the latest addition to a solar power grid providing energy for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, DWP officials and others gathered Wednesday at Angelus Grand plaza, which includes a Food 4 Less supermarket and a CVS pharmacy, to switch on the solar panel installation.

Power from the solar array will be sold to DWP to add to the utility’s menu of renewable power sources.

The project is in what USC and UCLA consider a “solar equity hotspot ” which is a place where there is a low-income community and ample number of rooftops for potential solar projects.

This solar panel project is part of several in the DWP’s feed-in tariff program, known as CLEAN LA Solar, that allows commercial property owners to set up their own solar arrays to generate energy for the utility’s use, as opposed to just using the panels to power the buildings.

The company Edge3 Solar owns the solar installation at a 103,000-square-foot property owned by Levy Affiliated Holdings. The project was initially submitted by Solar Provider Group, which later sold it to Edge3.

The feed-in-tariff program, which began in 2013, has so far led to 14 projects able to generate 7.1 megawatts of solar energy, according to a release from the Los Angeles Business Council, which has championed this program. The DWP has a goal of setting up a grid of solar panel installations that can create 150 megawatts, under this program.

“I am excited to see a local business step up and join the CLEAN LA Solar movement in Boyle Heights,” Huizar said. “I hope it inspires others in Council District 14 and throughout the city of Los Angeles to apply to this valuable, environmentally friendly program, which creates jobs and clean, renewable energy while reducing pollution.”

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