LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has launched a public outreach process as it begins the process of implementing new rate increases.
The public process includes a community meeting July 22 at its headquarters.
The city agency is proposing rate increases for the next five years to deal with its aging infrastructure.
Under the plan, customers would see an average increase of about 3.4% for water and power on their bill each year for five years, according to an LADWP fact sheet. The proposal comes after LADWP raised rates in 2012 by 11.1% over a two-year period.
The 6 p.m. event will be livestreamed.
"LADWP is proposing water and power rate changes over the next five years that would provide funding to accelerate the replacement of aging infrastructure, better protect against drought conditions, and meet water and power supply mandates while improving customer service," according to LADWP fact sheet.
The utility presented its proposal to the Board of Water and Power Commissioners on July 8, launching a four-month community engagement and public outreach effort.
LADWP first proposed rate increases in 2008 to deal with aging infrastructure, triggering an outcry from several City Council members.
The rate increase process was slowed as LADWP tried to demonstrate increased budget efficiency and dealt with criticism that the department's salary structure was higher than pay received by other city workers.
The need for increased funding for infrastructure was highlighted again when LADWP water pipes burst in August 2014 releasing millions of gallons of water to flood a segment of the University of California, Los Angeles campus and the adjoining Westwood neighborhood.
LADWP's water pipes are currently on a 300-year replacement schedule.
Officials said power revenues need to increase by $900 million to reach $4.4 billion over the next five years. The majority of that revenue - roughly 75% -- would be used to meet state mandates for reducing greenhouse emissions.
Water revenues need to increase by $230 million over the same period; 85% of that increase will support infrastructure repair and replacement for reliability, and infrastructure improvements to meet water quality regulations, according to LADWP.
LADWP customers will still pay less for water and power than surrounding cities, officials said.
LADWP water main leaks are less than half the state average, and have decreased by 37% over the past seven years with the proactive replacement of older, more vulnerable pipes, officials said.
"But LADWP's cycle of replacement is still too slow and more pipes are getting older at a faster rate," they said. "LADWP needs to ramp up replacement of this and other infrastructure to minimize disruptions for its customers and save water."
Increased revenues are needed on the power side to deal with aging infrastructure there as well. Even though LADWP's reliability is among the best in California, according to the department, 45% of LADWP's 320,000 poles are over 60 years old, which is the average design life of a power pole.
In addition, LADWP will eliminate the use of coal power in the next 10 years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, expand renewable energy to 33% of power sales, increase energy efficiency to reduce electricity use by 15%, and rebuild coastal power generating stations to eliminate ocean water cooling.
The new power revenues will allow LADWP to continue the transition of its power supply to comply with goals and state environmental mandates.