L.A. Council Rejects Mayor Villaraigosa's DWP Rate Hike Plan

In a rare act of defiance against Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the L.A. City Council on Friday rejected the initial piece of his plan to hike Department of Water and Power rates by as much as 28.4 percent.

However, the deal's not done: Councilman Richard Alarcon has filed a motion that would give the mayor and the DWP their requested, first hike of 0.8-cents-per-kilowatt-hour, but it would also put the brakes on three other steps up in price planned for the utility's customers.

The City Council will take up that idea Tuesday.

The issue has been contentious and exposed newfound political strength among a City Council that has often fallen in line with the mayor. Some on the council have argued that now is not the right time for such a massive hike (and the Los Angeles Times reported Friday that as much as a 37 percent rate hike is being discussed within the DWP).

The mayor pushed the power-bill increases as a "carbon surcharge" that would help the city use less coal-based power, retrofit residences and businesses with solar panels and other energy-efficient tools, and create thousands of jobs.

Along with enlisting the endorsements of former Vice President Al Gore and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Villaraigosa also warned -- despite his own assurances that the word bankruptcy was not in his vocabulary -- that the city could go bust if it didn't collect this extra cash from its residents and business owners.

-With reporting from Weekly wire services. Got news? Email us.


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