Planned DWP increase approved by city council

LOS ANGELES A 4.8-percent DWP electricity rate hike is set to go into effect on July 1. Tuesday, the /*Los Angeles City Council*/ fell one vote short in its attempt to take jurisdiction over the /*Los Angeles Department of Water and Power*/ and challenge the utility's increase. Councilman /*Bernard Parks*/ arrived too late Tuesday to cast the deciding vote.

The L.A. City Council approved a 4.8-percent increase in electric rates, then started having second thoughts. There was confusion over whether the rate increase would be every three months or permanent. The increase would be permanent, not temporary.

"It was all annualized and did not contemplate that rate would be rolled back," said L.A. Chief Legal Analyst Gerry Miller.

"All I can say is that I think this is a surprise to more than one of us," said L.A. City Councilman /*Paul Koretz*/.

Tuesday was the last day the council could vote to rescind the increase and send it back to the DWP.

"I, too, like Mr. Koretz, feel that I didn't understand it or it wasn't explained properly," said councilman /*Bill Rosendahl*/.

The council failed by one vote to take jurisdiction over the rate increase. That one vote would have come from councilman Bernard Parks, who arrived after council adjourned.

"The thing is that when I read my book last night, it was an informational issue. I did not have any idea that there was a voting issue about a 245," said Parks. "If I had known that earlier, I would have rearranged my schedule but I found out about it when I got here."

It was too late to reconsider the vote.

The DWP hasn't become very popular with the city council.

"Right now there's a lot of misrepresentation and a lot of questions and what some people describe as 'scamming,' scamming the population," said councilman /*Dennis Zine*/.

The electric rate increase takes place July 1. City Council President /*Eric Garcetti*/ thinks the city will be able to revisit the issue in October.

"We said in September, first they have five months to clean up this department, to spend some time really telling the people of L.A. what 'green power' they're going to buy, to justify any future increases," said Garcetti.

Councilwoman /*Jan Perry*/ voted to stop the increase and she believes it may be too late. Perry's last-ditch attempt to assert jurisdiction over the increase fell short.

Ten votes are required to assert jurisdiction; the council voted 9-5.

"I've done this long enough that you know when you let the horse out of the barn, the horse usually stays out of the barn until it's time to go home and go to sleep," said Perry.

The rate hike is considerably less than the 5.7-percent increase approved by the DWP last month, but vetoed by the city council. As a result, the DWP threatened to withhold $73.5 million it had promised to put in the city's depleted general fund. That damaged the city's credit rating and increased the city's budget shortfall.

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