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L.A. consultant tab ballooned by $600,000 after council got in a fight

May 25, 2010 |  1:46 pm
The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday voted to pick up the $600,000 tab for a consulting firm’s extra work advising the city on a controversial utility surcharge to pay for fuel costs and renewable energy projects.

PA Consulting Group had a $250,000 contract to perform the analysis on the surcharge but was called on by the city to provide further study and briefings when Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the council became locked in a bitter political standoff over the rate hike in April. Gerry Miller, the city’s chief legislative analyst, said the additional work conducted by PA Consulting included further analysis, administrative support, attending public briefings and other services.

PA Consulting’s initial study had recommended that the Department of Water and Power increase its energy surcharge by up to 2.7 cents, which would have boosted the bills of DWP customers by up to 22%. The surcharge covers the fluctuating costs of coal and natural gas and also has been used to support renewable energy projects.

The council and the DWP board eventually approved an increase of 0.6 cents per kilowatt hour, or a 4.5% increase, but will consider additional increases in the future.

-- Phil Willon at Los Angeles City Hall