New DWP Chief Vows More Transparency On Rate Hikes

Ex-consultant pledges better City Council ties

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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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  • lho

    Please tell the manager to fix their huge internal problem first before any rate increase.
    Problems such as worker not working but just punch in punch out their hourly card. and monthly salary

  • Elizabeth Amann

    Dear DWP,
    Thanks to the fact that you NEVER post your payment to my checking account when I MAKE the payment (two weeks ago), but instead wait until TODAY, when I am BROKE, I am now OVERDRAWN. Oh, and get your online payment system to sync up with the field agents, too. I hate having you knock on my door, telling me you’re shutting off my utilities due to non-payment when I HAVE PAID YOU, but because the two systems are DIFFERENT, the agents need to CALL THE MAIN OFFICE to prove I am NOT LYING.

  • Mike Dosta


  • Joseph K

    Hopefully not another politician trying to run a utility. Internal problems? Just what the greedy city council and media would have you believe.

  • abacrombee

    Please remember people, DWP needs that 200 million plus to put into LAs general fund every year.

  • Carol Jones

    Well this is just the start of the rate hikes. In my opinion, water is the most precious commodity. Most people don’t even think about how they waste water, letting it run through the pipes, watering the sidewalks while watering the yard, or washing the cars. One day it will be rationed, and the cost of it will be worth more than money, what then???

  • Lyla cavanaugh

    My bill just doubled after going up 8 per cent in July, and 8 per cent in Sept. From what I understand therfe are four more rate hikes due in this next yr. altogether.

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