Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

DWP ratepayer advocate predicts rate hikes and recommends delaying city’s 100% clean energy timetable

DWP ratepayer advocate predicts rate hikes and recommends delaying city’s 100% clean energy timetable

green energy

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Los Angeles residents and businesses will face higher electric bills as the Department of Water and Power transitions to 100 percent clean energy, according to a report by the city’s Office of Public Accountability.

Monthly bills could rise by 7.7 percent annually over the coming years if the city maintains its 100 percent clean energy goal by 2035, according to the report, which considers the cost to customers “unreasonable” and recommends delaying the 2035 benchmark.

The average monthly electricity bill for flats and houses is $65.81, according to the DWP. Sewer fee increases have also been proposed, which appear on the same bill.

Fred Pickel, the ratepayer advocate for the Office of Public Accountability, an independent city department that oversees DWP rates, expressed concern that in the rush to meet the 2035 target, the DWP could be committing itself to outdated technology, which could be more expensive in the long run. run.

One example is the DWP’s adoption of battery storage, which could help conserve solar energy. This technology is expected to change over the next decade.

The DWP is seeking to phase out coal and gas and boost wind, solar and geothermal power, as well as possibly green hydrogen, and reach 100% clean energy by 2035.

The 2035 goal, part of an effort to reduce planet-warming carbon emissions that result in deadly heat waves and wildfires, among other consequences, was first announced by then-Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2021.

The state of California has a similar mandate, but with a 2045 deadline.

The DWP’s bills are expected to rise due to new clean energy distribution systems and new technologies such as “smart” thermostats, as well as staff increases, according to the Public Accountability Office.

Pickel admitted his report was based on information from the DWP’s 2022 plan for the city’s energy supply over the next few decades.

The 2024 version of that plan will be released later this year, likely altering the utility’s cost projections.

The Office of Public Accountability report also does not take into account the billions of federal dollars available to utilities under the Inflation Relief Act of 2022, which is intended to help households save money on their energy bills.

Pickel acknowledged that the report does not include the costs to the planet or the effects on human health that could result from delaying the long-held 2035 goal.

However, Pickel expressed concern about the DWP’s approach to meeting the 2035 target, which he has previously stated but never quite so explicitly. Pickel, who is retiring at the end of this year, quoted President Eisenhower in his report, writing, “Plans are useless, but planning is everything.”

“People justifiably want to reduce carbon as quickly as they can,” Pickel told The Times. “But LA will have a bigger impact if we can convince people that it can be done cost-effectively and quickly… We shouldn’t be blindly paying ahead to 2035, coming hell or high gear.”

The DWP provided a statement from Simon Zewdu, the utility’s senior deputy general manager of the energy system.

The DWP is “absolutely committed” to getting to 100% clean energy by 2035 in an affordable way, Zewdu said.

Mayor Karen Bass affirmed her support for the 2035 goal during her annual State of the City address in April, saying she was “proud to continue Los Angeles’ global leadership on climate change.”

Bass’ office did not respond to requests for comment about the report, which was sent to city leaders last month.

If the city pushed its deadline to 2045 — the state’s benchmark — bills would increase 4.8 percent annually starting that year, the report said, calling the increase “modest.”

In the 2035 scenario, the increase could be even greater than 7.7% annually, depending on how the DWP decides to switch to clean energy.

In contrast, DWP electricity bills have risen by about 4% to 4.5% annually over the past two years, according to Pickel.

Projections include expected 2.5 percent annual increases in inflation, as well as increases resulting from the state’s transition to clean energy.

Tony Wilkinson, chairman of the DWP’s Neighborhood Council Advisory Committee, said city leaders had promoted the 2035 target without setting out costs.

He said he fully supported getting to 100% renewable energy, but questioned whether waiting until 2038, for example, would be cheaper.

“The earlier you adopt a technology, the more expensive it becomes,” he said.

Environmental leaders said they welcomed some of the report’s recommendations, including the need to spend more money converting transportation and buildings to electricity.

But they rejected pushing back the 2035 date. Julia Dowell, senior campaign organizer at the Sierra Club, said sticking to the timeline was “absolutely critical.”

“Failure to decarbonize quickly means exacerbating LA’s worst air pollution and related health costs,” she said. “It also means increasing the possibility of future climate catastrophes.”

Andrea Vega, an organizer for Food & Water Watch, said “there’s a huge public health cost” to using fossil fuels and that LA needs to focus on investing in programs that mitigate rate increases.

Critics also said the report did not take into account some of the savings they could enjoy, for example, if they did not have to buy gas.

Loraine Lundquist, a faculty associate at Cal State Northridge’s Institute for Sustainability, said the report “ignores the incredible costs of continuing to burn fossil fuels.”

“The fires sweeping the state right now make it clear that the cost of sticking with the status quo is enormous,” she said.

2024 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Citation: DWP ratepayer advocate predicts rate hikes and recommends delaying city’s 100% clean energy timetable (2024 July 11) retrieved on July 11, 2024 from -ratepayer-advocate-fee-delay .html

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