City offers rebates for electric vehicles

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image The Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf, the first all-electric vehicles to hit the market, went on sale this past December. The Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Department of Water and Power are invested in helping these cars catch on. Today, they launched Charge Up LA. It’s a rebate program that will give electric car owners up to $2,000 toward the installation and cost of their in-home charger.

Villaraigosa boasted that this was another great pilot program to add to LA’s green campaign.

“We’re, like, the only city doing this,” Villaraigosa said. “I’m telling you this is something that really sets LA apart. Again, it’s not a hyperbole. This will be a game changer, and we will be the electric vehicle capital.”

The cost of the home charger is too expensive for some — but the city hopes that the rebate combined with increasing gas prices will make the cars more attractive. The average gas price today in LA County is $4.21.

But it’s not just about savings for the consumer — it’s also about reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and improving air quality. Dr. Joseph Lyou is the CEO of the statewide Coalition for Clean Air.

“We are still challenged here in this air district with the worst air quality in the entire nation,” Lyou said.

There are other environmental benefits. Most people charge their cars at home at night — they can go about 90 miles until they need to recharge. Nighttime is also when the DWP is able to use the most renewable energy from wind power. It’s windier at night, sending more wind power into the grid.

Ron Nichols, the general manager of the DWP, calls electric cars an elegant solution.

“That’s a double win for the environment.”

The DWP plans to subsidize 1,000 chargers that will cost $2 million — and depending on demand to spend up to $6 million.

In most cases, the $2,000 rebate will pay for the entire cost of the charger and installation — in some cases it will be cheaper.

If you’re thinking about going electric, act fast — the rebate option starts on May 1 and is on a first-come, first-serve basis.

DWP reaches its renewable energy goal, but some just call it luck

By: Melissa Butler


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image Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel unveiled an audit that revealed how the Department of Water and Power met its goal of 20 percent renewable energy. Yet, Greuel, who headed the audit, says her team believes this had little to do with the DWP’s efforts.

“My audit reveals, for example, that the DWP reached its first milestone as a result of higher than expected wind and hydro performance, abnormally cool temperatures and sometimes things beyond the DWP’s influence or control.”

Ron Nickels is the DWP General manager. He used a basketball metaphor to claim his team still won.

“I feel that we just won the division championship last year from the department’s perspective by hitting our 20 percent last year. And we have an audit here that kind of effectively says, well, we kind of think you stole the championship. Maybe you made that half court shot at buzzer. Think maybe you might have committed a foul that you didn’t get caught on. And you won. And maybe you didn’t quite earn it. Well, I kind of beg to differ. We did win that division championship and a win is a win. We won fair and square.”

According to the audit, DWP would have fallen short of its goal by nearly 2 percent, if temperatures were at expected levels. In the future, it’s possible that the DWP will have to meet an even higher percentage of renewable energy.

“Sitting on the governor’s desk today is a piece of legislation that would make it very clear that it would be a requirement for all utilities, including the department of water and power, that we would have to meet 33 percent by 2020,” Nickels said.

But DWP doesn’t have the funding to reach this goal just yet.

“That I think is the most important discussion; it’s the main point we make in the audit that there isn’t a corresponding financial plan,” Greuel said.

Yet, a financial plan will be made, because she is in full support of the 33 percent renewable energy goal.

These goals are quite admirable and lottable. Renewable energy is more than a worthwhile investment; it’s an essential one,” Greuel said.

But the push to meet an even higher green energy standard still depends on passing legislation and finding funding.

Department of Water and Power may face mandatory audits

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The measure comes after two employees were accused of funneling $3 million of Department of Water and Power money through fake companies. This also comes another employee was caught going to a strip club while on the job. The department has been accused of trying to hike electricity rates unnecessarily.

But the department argues that Councilman Eric Garcetti, who proposed the measure, put the proposal together hastily without much thought or outside consideration. Yusef Robb, who is Garcetti’s spokesperson, defended the measure and the need for auditing of the Department of Water and Power.

Department of Water and Power might create a ratepayer advocate

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At the public hearing, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry also talked about the creation of a ratepayer advocate. Though generally supportive of the reform, Department of Water and Power customers shared a range of views on how the advocate should function and how the position should be funded.