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Rate hike approved despite opposition

April 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Council finally voted on the DWP's contentious rate hike request on Wednesday.During two lengthy hearings, the Council heard from dozens of residents who opposed the hike.

"We don't trust the Department of Water and Power's numbers. We don't think they're being forthright," said irate male resident.

Click in the Eyewitness News story window above to watch Gene Gleeson's report from the scene, including irate public comment.

"We can't afford the increase. Ladies and gentleman, the rate payers cannot afford to pay to give any more money," said another resident.

Despite urgent pleas, the Council approved the 6 percent power rate hike unanimously. The 3 percent hike in water rates was opposed by two members, so it will have to be voted on again next week, but it is expected to pass.

"There's no question that our infrastructure is decrepit and needs to be updated, but the question is, what are we buying," said Richard Alarcon, 7th District Councilman.

DWP officials said they need the money to upgrade their infrastructure. Thousands of their poles, transformers and wires are up to 60 years old, and they need to be made new again.

The DWP points to last week's electric vault explosion that killed a firefighter. The smoldering power cable that led to the blast was 60 years old.

On the water side, officials said old pipes, treatment plants and reservoirs need upgrading. The hikes will raise $46 million for water upgradesand $150 million for power.

"I hope that the rate payers will understand that the cost of not acting, the cost of not having these rate increases, far outweighs the costs of having them," said DWP General Manager David Nahai.

The Council also voted to form an oversight committee to track the DWP's infrastructure projects to make sure residents are getting what they're promised.

 

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