The mayor in his wisdom put forward a bold and imaginative fiction a week ago on how the public could pay just $2.50 a month extra and eliminate half of the entire power generating city that relies on dirty coal and keeps DWP rates dirt cheap.
Three days later, his appointees to the DWP Commission performed their duties as stooges and listened attentively to environmentalists tell them to forget what the real costs are, the planet must be saved even if it takes food off the table of the poor and middle class families struggling to hold their lives together in America’s Second Great Depression, as so many ordinary citizens pointed out.
There is no plan to get rid of coal power plants. No strategic plan for running the DWP. Nothing but a make-believe deficit despite a $200 million a year surplus to be transferred to the General Fund.
The commissioners not only betrayed the public trust without asking any tough questions before approving rate hikes of 30 percent to raise $800 million extra in a year, they went further and opened the door to massive rate hikes for years to come and gave Interim General Manager David Freeman at least until summer to invent a plan on how to spend all those billions pouring into the DWP as rates double and triple.
And then to add insult to injury, the one proposal to safeguard the public from the DWP’s price gouging by creating an independent Rate Payer Advocated and castrated it. They approved putting the RPA under Controller Wendy Greuel’s direct control which was like putting George Wallace in charge of school desegregation in the 1960s.
Greuel owes her career to the DWP union and its bully boss Brian D’Arcy who has bestowed fortunes on her to run for office and gotten in return her unblemished support for rate hikes and salary hikes.
To make matters worse, they gave Freeman 60 days to work out with Greuel the details of out this position will be totally ineffective. Scratch that, they made it 90 days in the end — the same time it will take Freeman to fictionalize a massive transformation of the 85 percent of the power system reliant on fossil fuels into a pure green system that will run on nothing but wind and sun forever and ever.
They might as well call it Freeman’s “Hot Air” plan because that’s all it is, all he’s capable of.
Now it’s up to the City Council to decide whether the rate-paying, tax-paying public deserves to even have the facts set out in public and analyzed and debated.
On Tuesday, the Council is scheduled to consider a motion by Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry and seconded by Paul Koretz, Paul Krekorian, Bernard Parks, Bill Rosendahl and Dennis Zine to take jurisdiction over the rate hike.
The motion says the rate hike approved by the DWP Commission “is new and contains rate elements not previously assessed by the Council or its independent third party reviewer. In order to ensure the Department of Water and Power’s financial stability and minimize impacts to the ratepayers, (so) it is critical that the Council carefully review the Board’s action and reconcile policy issues.”
Tony Cardenas and Tom LaBonge have said they support the motion but it takes 10 votes to take jurisdiction so it’s not a done deal.
The mayor doesn’t want that to happen so he is threatening members and offering them deals to get the six votes to sweep the rate increase out of public view — at least until the bills start coming in the mail and people can’t afford to pay them.
This is a radical change in policy that targets homeowners and small businesses hardest, regardless of their incomes and ability to pay. It is based on political slogans, not planning. It is as close to a secret as is imaginable since there is no plan at all.
Any Council member who doesn’t at the least support an open and transparent and thorough review ought to be the target of universal scorn and removed from office.
They have spent months worrying about the horror of laying off city workers — already at an all-time high with 33 actually fired and most of 4,000 to go — without worrying about all the parks and libraries and other basic services that will be destroyed, without even coming close to solving the budget crisis they created.
In the face of this crisis, they unanimously approved five years of pay raises for DWP workers who are so well endowed with big paychecks that other city employees transferring to the utility instead of being laid off are getting raises of up to 50 percent.
In the name of saving the DWP, they are destroying the city.
Taking jurisdiction is only the first step. It would then go to committee, then back to the Council where the rate hike would be approved or sent back to the DWP for reconsideration. So there is precious little time to mobilize before the rate hike takes effect April 1 if the Council does the right thing on Tuesday.
Here’s the full motion:
On March 18, 2010, the Board of Water and Power Commissioners approved a Resolution
authorizing modification ofthe Energy Cost Adjustment Factor (ECAF) cap of the Electric Rate
Ordinance (Item No. 22 on the Board of Water and Power Commissioner’s Agenda) from.l cent/kWh to .8 cent/kWh effective April 1, 2010. It is projected that the ECAF will increase by 2.7centslkWh over the next four quarters.
In addition, the Board’s action establishes a new trust fund within ECAF called the Renewable
Energy and Energy Efficiency Trust Fund. This fund is intended to set aside funding for renewable energy development and energy efficiency efforts unless the Department’s financial planning requirements cannot be met.
On September 2′d, 2009, the Council disapproved an August 2009 ECAF proposal and called for an independent third party fiscal review of the matter. In November 2009, PA Consulting was selected by the City Administrative Officer and the Chief Legislative Analyst to conduct the fiscal review.
On February 26th, 2010, PA Consulting’s report was released listing its key findings and
recommendations with respect to the ECAF issue. The report was subsequently heard by the Energy and Environment Committee on March 16th, 2010.
The ECAF proposal adopted by the Board on March 18th is new and contains rate elements not previously assessed by the Council or its independent third party reviewer. In order to ensure the Department of Water and Power’s financial stability and minimize impacts to the ratepayers, it is critical that the Council carefully review the Board’s action and reconcile policy issues.
I THEREFORE MOVE that pursuant to Section 245 of the Los Angeles City Charter (Prop. 5)
the City Council assert jurisdiction over the Board of Water and Power Commissioner’s action on March 18th, 2010 (Item No. 22 on the Agenda) relative to modification of the Energy Cost Adjustment Factor (ECAF) cap of the Electric Rate Ordinance from .1 cent/kWh to .8 cent/kWh.
I FURTHER MOVE that upon assertion of jurisdiction, this matter be immediately referred to
the Energy and Environment committe~vview and consideration.