Wednesday, October 19, 2005

LA Power Agency urges to conserve cash first

A novel idea for a government agency--try saving money before sticking it to your customers.

The Department of Water and Power should freeze tens of millions of dollars in spending as it considers whether a proposed 3.8 percent water rate hike is needed, a DWP commissioner said Tuesday.

The suggestion came as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's new Board of Water and Power commissioners continued to set an aggressive tone as they settle in as the citizen oversight body for the nation's largest municipal utility.

The panel started the day with an "urgent" call for more renewable energy as it reviewed the DWP's power system amid three recent blackouts that have roiled parts of the city. Then it moved to another focus area: financial accountability.

Commissioner Nick Patsaouras questioned DWP's budget of about $40 million for economic development at the same that it considers a water-rate hike that would generate about $25 million.

"How are you going to enhance the image of the district by raising the rates and then you're spending $40 million?" he said.