Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Energy Committee approves four new DWP commissioners

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Four new appointees to the Board of Water and Power Commissioners were approved Monday by the L.A. City Council's Energy and Environment Committee, with a vote by the full council expected later this week. 

Despite the recent, tense contract negotiations between the city and the DWP's union, the confirmation hearing was light on policy and personnel issues. Mayor Eric Garcetti's appointees— Jill Banks Barad, Mel Levine, William Funderburk and Michael Fleming — were unanimously confirmed by the committee. Current DWP Commissioner Christina Noonan will remain on the board. 

"My questions have been answered," said committee member Felipe Fuentes at the beginning of the hearing, noting he met with the appointees privately last week. 

During his comments, committee member José Huizar said the recent mayor's race drew attention to the DWP because of the union's strong financial support of Wendy Greuel. For his part, committee member  Tom LaBonge noted the focus on the utility is similar to what the Los Angeles Police Department and Metro experienced in past years. As for policy, the Fourth District councilman pointed out Recreation and Parks is struggling financially now that it has to pay DWP for water and electricity. 

"I just wanted to put that on your radar," LaBonge said. "I want to find a way to lower the cost for public good — for the schools, for the parks [department]."

The Department of Water and Power is expected to release proposed rate increases by the end of the year. If the commissioners approve the request, their recommendation would be forwarded to the City Council. 

The four nominees declined to be interviewed following the afternoon hearing. 

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