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New DWP Chief Vows More Transparency On Rate Hikes

Ex-consultant pledges better City Council ties
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(AP/FILE)

(AP/FILE)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — An energy industry consultant with a reputation as “a fixer” took charge of the troubled Department of Water and Power on Tuesday, promising transparency and accountability on potential rate increases in the coming months.

At his confirmation hearing before the City Council, Ron Nichols said he applied for the job “because I’ve spent my whole life fixing things. That’s what my job has been: to come in when there are troubles, and create long-term sustainable solutions for them.”

Nichols, formerly the managing director of Seattle-based Navigant Consulting Inc., said he plans to improve relations with the council, which feuded with the DWP last year over a hike in electricity rates.

KNX 1070′s Pete Demetriou reports Nichols is bracing for “some really tough decisions” in his new role.

When the council asked about the possibility of rate increases in the near future, Nichols noted the DWP has to replace aging water mains; move away from chlorination; cover its reservoirs; and comply with state regulatory requirements on how to cool its coastal power plants to avoid harming marine life, and on increasing its renewable power portfolio.

“Those aren’t cheap,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m not going to sit and misguide you. There’s major upward pressure that we’re going to have to push back on, and we’re going to have to work on prioritizing which of these things to we do when.”

Nichols is the DWP’s seventh general manager this decade.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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