KPCC’s Sharon McNary offers a report on LADWP’s extensive outreach effort to educate residential customers, businesses and professionals, civic leaders and other stakeholders about the rate proposal.
McNary describes how LADWP executives are going on road shows across Los Angeles, from South Los Angeles community meetings to a “swanky” Town Hall lunch in a downtown skyscraper.
At the first stop, “about 120 people are jammed into a meeting room in South Los Angeles” to learn how the rate changes will affect them and ask questions of top LADWP executives. “The DWP has put on dozens of these community Q and As about the rate increase,” McNary says in her report. Some participants voiced confusion about the rate changes, which McNary says “can be confusing. But to strip it down to essentials, DWP customers will basically see a sliding scale of rate increases depending on how much water and power they use.”
People who use the least amount of water would pay the smallest increase, less than $2 a month on average, over the five years. The heaviest water and power residential consumers would pay about $17.60 more each month on average.
McNary’s report continues with another presentation a day later to a very different audience, business and civic leaders attending a Town Hall Los Angeles luncheon that featured LADWP General Manager Marcie Edwards as the guest speaker.
The report points out that LADWP’s message is different for this audience, with more emphasis on how the rate changes will leverage debt to fund $17 billion in new construction. “For me the big ticket item is infrastructure,” Edwards says. LADWP’s water and power service ranks high in reliability, but the pipes, poles and other critical infrastructure is aging. In addition, the power rate increases will support building the infrastructure necessary to meet state mandates for expanding renewable energy, and continue modernizing coastal power plants to meet regulatory requirements for eliminating ocean water cooling.
Mark Gold of the UCLA Institute of Environment and Sustainability, and a water policy advisor to the Mayor, says that LADWP is wisely tweaking its message at each stop along this road show.
The two meetings were among about 50 that LADWP has conducted throughout the city with several more planned. In addition to road shows, LADWP has maintained a strong online presence through MyLADWP.com and sharing rates related information on social media.