DWP (Advocacy) Committee Meeting Notes

Jack Humphreville | Jan 15, 2014

Below is a summary of the DWP (Advocacy) Committee meeting on Saturday morning, January 4, at 8:45 at DWP Headquarters. 

Delon Kwan of the Water System discussed the upward pressure on water rates as DWP has been forced to purchase significantly more water from the Metropolitan Water District as supplies from the Owens Valley via the Los Angeles Aqueduct have been reduced to the lowest levels in generations.  MWD is expected to supply 71% of our water this year, up from an average of 44% over the last five years.

This curtailment from the Eastern Sierras is the result of a below average snowpack and excessive environmental mandates by the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District that require the diversion of 95,000 acre feet of water for dust mitigation on Owens Lake, a sparsely populated area in Inyo County. 

As a result of the Department’s reliance on MWD, our DWP water bills will increase by around $200 million, or almost 25%.  This is before any proposed rate increases.

To date, DWP has spent $1.2 billion on Owens Lake (almost $65,000 for each resident of Inyo County), raising the question of why haven’t the Mayor and City Council used their political clout in Sacramento to protect our wallets from these overly aggressive regulators. 

The DWP Advocacy Committee unanimously passed a resolution urging the City of Los Angeles to facilitate the move of the Office of Public Accountability / Ratepayers Advocate to an office in City Hall so that the public will have better access to the OPA / RPA.  At the same time, it is important to preserve the independence of the OPA / RPA.   

Aram Benyamin, the head of the Power System, discussed the Integrated Resources Plan that is updated every year.  Topics included the Human Resource Plan as 1,700 of the Power System’s 4,000 employees will be eligible for retirement by 2020; the Reliability of the Power System (poles, cables, transformers); a new power plant in Nevada to replace the coal fired Navajo Generating Station; Energy Efficiency and the need to reduce demand; more efficient use of energy in DWP’s over 1,000 buildings; renewable goals of 25% by 2016 and 33% by 2020 and the use of existing transmission lines; and the replacement of coal at the Utah based IPP by 2020.

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Subsequent to our meeting, Ron Nichols, the General Manager of DWP for the last three years, announced that he was leaving the Department as of January 31.  This is a huge loss, not only for the Department and all of its employees, but for the Ratepayers and the City as he had earned our trust and confidence through his honesty, his accessibility, his candor, his knowledge of the utility business, and his insistence that the DWP be an open and transparent organization.  We thank him for his efforts on behalf of the Ratepayers, the Department, and the City.