The Los Angeles City Council voted on March 15 to approve the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s request for an increase in electricity rates for residents, as well as higher water costs and stiffer penalties for heavy users.
The vote comes after months of lobbying from the LADWP, which argued that these rate hikes to consumers would help to reduce overall power use while also providing additional funds for needed improvements to infrastructure. LADWP claim that these benefits, which include enhancements to reliability and making sustainable energy sources a larger portion of the power grid, far outweigh direct costs that residents will incur.
According to the LADWP, these rate increases will take place gradually over the next five years, with the average consumer experiencing a 3.86 percent increase in their monthly bills each year. Depending on one’s electricity needs, at the end of five years, rates are expected to go up between $4.20 per month for low-use residents and $16.31 per month for higher-use residents, or between $50.40 and $316.80 per year.
State mandates require Los Angeles to transition to renewable sources for 33 percent of its energy use, and approximately 80 percent of the additional revenue generated from the rate hikes is currently budgeted to meet this goal. The rest will go toward updating the grid infrastructure and paying labor costs.
Student reactions to these rate increases are mixed, with some students saying that the improvements to efficiency and reliability are worth the larger bill.
“I don’t really care about the additional cost because it’s spread out over a year, and it’s not that high,” said Yi Zheng, a masters student in electrical engineering. “Personally, it’s not that bad for me, and lots of apartments have the electricity built into rent anyway.”
However, Zheng also conceded that he might think twice about running the air conditioning in the summer if he were on a tighter budget. Despite this reasoning, other students thought that the rate increases are difficult to justify.
“I feel like the government should eat those costs and not consumers, since it’s their responsibility to make the city green in the first place,” said Tiara Conley, a sophomore majoring in business administration. “We already pay too much in taxes, and the cost of living is high enough.”