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When DWP Rate Payer Advocate Fred Pickel Speaks, They Don’t Listen Anymore Than When You Speak

Way back before Mayor Riordan fired him for being a windbag and empty 10-gallon hat, DWP General Manager David Freeman announced the largest solar energy program in U.S. history.

He spent tens of millions of dollars of ratepayer money on lobbyists, consultants, public relations manipulators and community relations operatives but the nation’s largest municipal utility never got around to building any solar energy.

Hardly a year has gone by since then that the DWP lied to the public, wasted ratepayer money and failed in one initiative after another to build enough solar energy to reduce its dependence on cheap and dirty coal for nearly half the city’s energy.

The main reason is IBEW union bully Brian D’Arcy thwarted all efforts because you don’t need his overpaid and underworked members for solar energy. That’s why they tried to extort as much as $4 billion from the public for a massive in-basin rooftop solar program that would be owned, installed and operated solely by DWP workers.

Unlike the City Council and the last two mayors who submitted to D’Arcy’s blackmail tactics in union contract talks, voters rejected the infamous Measure B.

A long time has passed since Freeman’s first solar foray and a lot of DWP general managers have come and gone and a lot of money has gone down the drain without public benefit to produce just 50 megawatts of rooftop solar, just 1 percent of the city’s energy use.

One of the main stumbling blocks was the refusal of the IBEW and DWP management to implement the only policy that has ever worked successfully anywhere to get individuals and businesses to install solar energy panels — feed-in tariffs that pay customers for the power they generate and feed into the power grid, programs that can eliminate power costs and pay for the installation in five to seven years.

On Tuesday, Councilwoman Jan Perry tried to get the City Council to review the DWP Board’s approval of a feed-in tariff policy that would pay those who install solar an average of 17 cents a kilowatt with peak demand fees reaching 35 cents — a huge premium on the 11 cents it costs on average for other sources of energy.

Rate Payer Advocate Fred Pickel was given 24 hours to review the policy when the fees were increased at the last-minute by nearly 14 percent when be believed they should have been cut by an even larger percentage.

Pickel has been undermined in repeated ways as he made clear in his gentlemanly testimony that fell on the deaf ears and dead minds of the City Council, thinks likely not giving him reports, ignoring his advice, making it hard for him to hire staff.

His position was created in the uproar over Measure B and the outrageous rate hike demands of the DWP and approved overwhelmingly by voters — points that should be remembered by anyone contemplating voting for Eric Garcetti for mayor since it was he who hid a critical report about what was wrong with Measure B and then weakened the role of the Rate Payer Advocate.

When you watch these videos you will see how Pickel is treated as if he were as irrelevant and you the ratepayers and voters and how General Manager Ron Nichols has become like all the other DWP heads who preceded — an empty suit glibly carrying the water and power for those in charge, be they union boss D’Arcy or the political machine itself.


This entry was posted in 2013 Election, 2013 LA Elections, City Hall, DWP, Hot Topics, Los Angeles. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to When DWP Rate Payer Advocate Fred Pickel Speaks, They Don’t Listen Anymore Than When You Speak

  1. anonymous says:

    Well, it is clear. Wendy MUST be defeated because she is Boss D`Arcy`s lap dog. Can you imagine how high our rates will go? I can`t. D`Arcy is going to spend millions to elect Wendy. He`ll expect a big return , rather multiple returns.., on his investment. God help us.

  2. anonymous says:

    I have said many times before. Wendy is corrupt to the bone. John Noguez and Wendy Greuel are very good friends. Birds of a feather ? When is the press is going to expose this fraud?

  3. Wayne the economic hostage of City Hall whose comment awaits moderation says:

    True story—a gas meter was found on the Ventura property that I’m in escrow on (which costs $20,000 EXTRA to have on a property in that particular region.) Guess what? THE EDISON MAFIA SAYS IT DOESN’T HAVE A RECORD OF THAT METER BEING INSTALLED EVER ON THAT PARCEL!!!!!!!! The R.E. Agent said he was going to “FIND OUT” what is going on! Yes, Like the Wizard of Oz—there is no place like home. I had to CANCEL THE FUCKING SALE since it seems mystery utility hook ups might be issue? YA THINK!! Luckily, I discovered this mystery since I took a small hand shovel and was looking for the water meter (and any other meters.) The average building inspection would of missed this gem! Probably the owner of one of the other properties got what the lawyer/bastards call a “utility easement.” In plain English—RUN AWAY FROM IT!
    But, living in the Land of King Herb I. and Prince Eric, I guess I have learned a few things about looking for things like this. The Downtown Mafia 2 years ago in Encino tried to tell me I had a septic system on my house!!!
    Thieves, Liars, Cheats, Bastards, and Morons—That’s all these DWP clowns are. In fact, in the L.A. Slimes if the “tariff” passes on Solar, they said in two words “Rates would increase 15%…”
    The Pickle Fool was UNELECTED—and hand-picked by Garslutti. How the hell is this jerk going to argue my position on DWP issues, let alone YOUR position? It’s useless.
    As for my L.A. Smog check (I need 2) the mechanic couldn’t fix it, so I’ll have to drive to another dealer to see if anyone can read and write. The second one, the man with the little digital box said I had to keep driving the car another 100 miles, then the “computer would pass.” Yes, only in 2013 has mankind regressed 3,000 years of human evolution!
    A note about Kevin James—He’s selling out to Republican Campaign Donors (the big kind.) Thus, there is no “grass roots” campaign, but just a race to see who can buy more influence. How foolish Kevin is to be paying huge sums to “campaign consultants.” He could be printing flyers to mail, yard signs, and banners with these funds he has collected. I’ll never understand why he decided to run for Mayor? He had a great shot at CITY ATTORNEY!!! Write in for Mayor the only real qualified candidate—BRUNO THE DOG! A dog would be a far better mayor than the thing we have now in there…

  4. In Eagle Rock says:

    Ron, these CMs are so full of themselves, a usual condition, but especially Tuesday on this topic with Fred Pickel. The RatePayerAdvocate was created by voter approval of position in the March 2011 election. Then in typical foot-dragging fashion, the council finally announced the selection of Fred as the RPA right around the end of January 2012, as I recall. So, now we have an RPA but NO SUPPORT STAFF provided for getting the work done. Without a staff, he then used the consultants previously used in the past on DWP issues.

    Until until recently, there still had been no go-ahead on getting a staff. Using head hunters for getting the staff selection was just begun but CMs are only concerned about how he may be delaying this from getting approval. Maybe tending to getting the position what was needed could have been in the plans somewhere to help out- I know, that’s expecting a lot.

    During that meeting, CM Jose Huizar spoke, and in typical style, reminded the council that it was he who recommended that the RPA position be created. In public comment, maybe it was John Walsh, but someone said that the idea for creating an RPA came from Nick Patsouras. Huizar wasn’t the only one working the issue for personal PR but I just get tired of hearing so much self congratulation from my CM with no real substance. We still are waiting for the CD-14 CLARTS fund accounting from Jose that generates hundreds of thousands of dollars of money, as ex-CM Nick Pacheco recalled during an NC meeting of LA-32 (El Sereno). (Ana Cubas was subbing for Jose who “could not make it” and called Nick ostensibly to bolster her boss’ position. Pacheco’s comments did not help, as he recalled those hundreds of thousands of dollars accumulated when he left office.) But that’s another story.

    The CMs don’t really care about accountability, only task completion. You have to wonder which of their “friends” stand to gain from what’s involved in this project. And it’s the rate payers who suffer. Alarcon managed to spin a good story on why this should proceed now, without delay. “It will cost a little more now but will save money later” was what I heard as his justification. Remember, these CMs have no particularly outstanding history of being accurate in most of what they project or predict when it comes to money issues.

    One standout here is Alarcon himself. Alarcon’s history with the Children’s Museum catastrophe of expense should be enough to disqualify him from making any predictions that impact expenses.

    Mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti might have skipped mention of his Measure B involvement in his “achievements” as he campaigns for mayor, but too many of us know otherwise. Garcetti’s essential gutting of the real force of the RPA is another recollection of mine from hearing the meetings back then. Garcetti was blasted in local activist blogs after the coucil meeting where he first proposed the scheme for a watered-down position that would be the RPA. The heavy criticism worked to have him try to shake up that Etch-a-Sketch at the next Council meeting and re-create a minimally acceptable sort of RPA on the ballot measure.

    I think the title of the position was not even “Rate Payer Advocate” until the second go ’round. He’s much too weasely in his make up to expect him to put public good over his personal agendas and pet projects and would make L.A. become even more deeply mired in fiscal chaos if elected as mayor.

    Any DWP action that costs us money- and what doesn’t- calls for as much scrutiny as can be applied.

  5. transparency says:

    Ron: I know I’m outside the issue at hand, but I wanted to share it with you and your readers.
    Video: Mayor Backs Second Amendment After Councilman Tries to Eject Armed Veteran

  6. Jan Calof says:

    Fred I have a real bone to pick with the DWP. Two years ago I put in solar energy. DWP refused for an entire year to turn on my solar power. I finally had to call my Congressman and get him involved. As did other clients of the same solar company. I in turn was billed their exorbitant prices for over a year. Which I refused to pay due to their refusal to turn on my solar. Now of course I am in trouble. I am disabled, retired, and can no longer cope with a fight. DWP keeps turning me off even though I have medical Equiptment in my house and the proper letters in place. My solar pays more than 100% of my use, but trash and sanitation is still exorbitant ! I don’t think I should have to pay for a years worth of their stubborn political bullshit.

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