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March 1, 2011 | David Lazarus
Kimberly Vincelli may not be the poster girl for reforming the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. But her case illustrates the need for a ratepayer advocate that people could turn to when they feel they're getting muscled by the utility. Vincelli, 53, of Tarzana received a residential bill for almost $18,000. Something's clearly wrong when a bill gets that high, and Vincelli believed she wasn't to blame. An examination of her DWP records suggests that maybe if she'd paid her water and power bills more diligently, she wouldn't be facing this trouble now. But the utility also appears to be at fault for not explaining things clearly to a customer who says she repeatedly tried to get straight answers, and for keeping the lights on for years as unpaid bills piled up. Vincelli's situation highlights the lack of a readily accessible resource for ratepayers having trouble with the country's largest municipally owned utility, a place where they could deal with folks who are ostensibly on their side.
ARTICLES BY DATE
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 9, 2014 | By Jack Dolan
Ron Nichols announced his resignation Thursday as general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which is struggling through a pair of public-relations debacles. Despite repeated demands from elected officials, Nichols has been unable to produce records showing how two nonprofit trusts created to help improve relations with the utility's largest union have spent more than $40 million in ratepayer money over the last decade.  Nichols also has been unable to adequately explain to elected officials, including his boss, Mayor Eric Garcetti, what those trusts have accomplished, even though he has co-managed them with the union leader for the last three years.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 1, 2012 | By Weston Phippen, Los Angeles Times
It's quite a beautiful house. Original marble tile in the bathrooms, circa 1926, four bedrooms, terraced lawn. But the view - the view of Silver Lake Reservoir is priceless. Well, this one is nearly $1.4 million. Realtors Dan Ortega and Jovelle Narcise held an open house recently at the West Silver Lake Drive property. As strangers mixed with visiting neighbors, a young couple chatted about the latest question facing the community: dig or drain? In these hills northwest of Dodger Stadium, it is a no-win situation.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 11, 2013 | By Louis Sahagun
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Mammoth Lakes Community Water District announced Thursday that they have reached a compromise settlement over use of the High Sierra ski town's water supply, ending a dispute whose roots reach back a century. Under the terms, Mammoth Lakes will pay the DWP $3.4 million now and $2.4 million, adjusted higher for inflation, in half a century. In return, the DWP will allow Mammoth Lakes to continue to draw its water supply from Mammoth Creek, which tumbles through town.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 9, 2014 | By Jack Dolan
Ron Nichols announced his resignation Thursday as general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which is struggling through a pair of public-relations debacles. Despite repeated demands from elected officials, Nichols has been unable to produce records showing how two nonprofit trusts created to help improve relations with the utility's largest union have spent more than $40 million in ratepayer money over the last decade.  Nichols also has been unable to adequately explain to elected officials, including his boss, Mayor Eric Garcetti, what those trusts have accomplished, even though he has co-managed them with the union leader for the last three years.
OPINION
September 24, 1989
Your editorial on air cleanup in the Grand Canyon ("Grand Canyon Pollution Cleanup," Sept. 13) states the city "must be willing to share the cost of cleaning up pollution it causes elsewhere." While we agree with your statement, we also want to be assured that the funds spent on additional cleanup equipment for the Navajo Generating Station will indeed result in greater visibility at the Grand Canyon. As a 21% owner of the coal-fueled power plant, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers would be responsible for a fifth of the costs for additional emissions control equipment, including flue gas scrubbers, if required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
OPINION
June 3, 2003
Re "DWP's Gas Bill to Climb Next Year," May 28: At issue is whether the L.A. Department of Water and Power was aggressive enough in taking advantage of the hedge market that developed in natural gas when stable prices became volatile. A natural gas user like the DWP can use hedging to protect itself from price spikes by purchasing gas from suppliers at a fixed price for a specific period of time or by entering into hedge contracts with Wall Street firms that will pay the difference if the price goes up. However, hedging is a new tool with inherent dangers.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 10, 1997
Re "L.A. Loses Battle With Owens Valley," July 3: When every household and business place in Los Angeles installs water-saving fixtures such as low-flow toilets and shower heads and makes a determined effort to reduce unnecessary water use, I'll be a bit more receptive to their complaints about how water prices would be influenced by returning water to the Owens Valley. DEBORAH BURNS Montclair Regarding the battle over mitigating the dust from Owens Dry Lake: Both Michael Kenny of the California State Air Resources Board and Los Angeles city officials pleaded for a 90-day cooling-off period.
OPINION
June 29, 1997
The Times' criticism of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power regarding Owens Lake rests on faulty premises (editorial, June 20). DWP's decision to appeal the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District's budget is not based upon a lack of understanding of or desire to solve the air-quality problem. DWP decided to use the administrative processes that are available to seek an effective use of its customers' funds and an open, science-based process that will lead to a solution to the problem.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 9, 2009 | Steve Lopez
If you're looking for work in this rotten economy, I've got a tip: Run, don't walk, to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and apply for anything they've got. A reader sent me a posting for an executive secretary position at the DWP, and the salary range is $68,089 to $97,864, with great benefits. "A good secretary is worth her weight in gold," said my e-mailer. "Only in the Los Angeles DWP do they take that quite literally." I like that line, but does a DWP executive secretary make more than his or her counterparts in other city departments?
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 1, 2012 | By Weston Phippen, Los Angeles Times
It's quite a beautiful house. Original marble tile in the bathrooms, circa 1926, four bedrooms, terraced lawn. But the view - the view of Silver Lake Reservoir is priceless. Well, this one is nearly $1.4 million. Realtors Dan Ortega and Jovelle Narcise held an open house recently at the West Silver Lake Drive property. As strangers mixed with visiting neighbors, a young couple chatted about the latest question facing the community: dig or drain? In these hills northwest of Dodger Stadium, it is a no-win situation.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 6, 2011 | By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times
After months of stumping for rate increases, the head of Los Angeles' massive power and water agency asked the utility's board to approve a first round of hikes on Tuesday. The increases in water rates, which were unanimously approved, would add about $5 a month to the average residential user's bill. The hikes are much less than the increases proposed earlier this year by Ron Nichols, general manager of the Department of Water and Power. Nichols has agreed to put the bulk of those hikes on hold until the City Council names a ratepayer advocate to independently scrutinize rates.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 15, 2011 | By Ashlie Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles once again will pick up part of the tab for residents who want to go solar. The Department of Water and Power announced at a public workshop Thursday the relaunch of its Solar Incentive Program, which offers rebates to businesses and homeowners who generate their own electricity. The program, which began in 1999, was suspended in April because a flood of applications caused funding to run out. The DWP originally budgeted $30 million for the initiative, but about $112 million in rebate requests poured in from those keen to install solar panels in order to cut their power bills and help the environment.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 6, 2011 | By Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles officials on Tuesday unveiled more than $400 million in cuts for the Department of Water and Power but vowed no service reductions and said the giant utility was not now seeking a rate increase. "This will enable us to maintain our customer-service quality as it is today," said Ron Nichols, general manager of the DWP, which provides water and power service to more than 4 million city residents and businesses. The cuts include elimination of funding for the popular holiday lights extravaganza at Griffith Park.
BUSINESS
March 1, 2011 | David Lazarus
Kimberly Vincelli may not be the poster girl for reforming the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. But her case illustrates the need for a ratepayer advocate that people could turn to when they feel they're getting muscled by the utility. Vincelli, 53, of Tarzana received a residential bill for almost $18,000. Something's clearly wrong when a bill gets that high, and Vincelli believed she wasn't to blame. An examination of her DWP records suggests that maybe if she'd paid her water and power bills more diligently, she wouldn't be facing this trouble now. But the utility also appears to be at fault for not explaining things clearly to a customer who says she repeatedly tried to get straight answers, and for keeping the lights on for years as unpaid bills piled up. Vincelli's situation highlights the lack of a readily accessible resource for ratepayers having trouble with the country's largest municipally owned utility, a place where they could deal with folks who are ostensibly on their side.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 21, 2010 | Steve Lopez
A few weeks ago, my colleague Garrett Therolf wrote about how Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas used $25,000 in public funds to buy himself a place in "Who's Who in Black Los Angeles." Well, it turns out he wasn't the only one. Last week I bought a copy of the $34.95 book to see what we got for our $25,000, and sure enough, Ridley Thomas is in there. But what jumped out was the "Government Spotlight" section, a six-page feature on a local utility that's been all over the news because of its arrogant rate hike demand.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 26, 1993
An audit of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power released Wednesday found irregularities in the awarding of some contracts to outside consultants. The audit by City Controller Rick Tuttle concluded that many of the department's professional services contractors had not paid the required city business taxes. The audit also questioned whether the department used outside contractors when lower-cost Civil Service employees were available.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 9, 2009 | Steve Lopez
If you're looking for work in this rotten economy, I've got a tip: Run, don't walk, to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and apply for anything they've got. A reader sent me a posting for an executive secretary position at the DWP, and the salary range is $68,089 to $97,864, with great benefits. "A good secretary is worth her weight in gold," said my e-mailer. "Only in the Los Angeles DWP do they take that quite literally." I like that line, but does a DWP executive secretary make more than his or her counterparts in other city departments?
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