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DWP union says the mayor should have supported compromise electric rate hike

April 2, 2010 |  2:48 pm

In the latest sign of fallout from the electric rate dispute at Los Angeles City Hall, the head of the union that represents Department of Water and Power employees said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa should have embraced the City Council's compromise proposal for increasing the size of ratepayers' bills.

Brian D'Arcy, business manager for the powerful International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18, met with the mayor to urge him to support the council's plan, which would have raised electric rates by 4.5%. That meeting occurred an hour before Villaraigosa's appointees on the DWP board were scheduled to take up the plan.

The DWP board voted Wednesday to ignore the council's plan and push instead for a larger 5.7% increase, which was closer to the original request by Villaraigosa. The council shot that plan down the same day, killing any chance of an increase for the next three months.

IBEW Local 18 represents roughly 8,600 DWP employees.

Villaraigosa's office had no comment. D'Arcy's statement, provided by a spokeswoman, was only one of the responses to the council-mayor spat over rates. 

Raman Raj, the DWP's acting general manager while interim executive S. David Freeman is on vacation, issued his own statement, saying the utility's financial outlook is in "significant jeopardy" in the wake of the council's decision.

The DWP has warned that the money generated by a rate increase would preserve its bond rating, which governs the cost of borrowing by the utility. Raj said in his statement that the DWP is looking at its options.

--David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall