City of LA Drops DWP Overbilling Lawsuit, Leaving Ratepayers on the Hook

Consumer Watchdog Says Sad Day For LA When FBI Has To Show Up At DWP To Deal With Billing Problems

Los Angeles, CA – Consumer  Watchdog responded to news that the FBI had served search warrants on the City Attorney and DWP by saying that it was critical that evidence was being preserved in what is likely a case of conspiracy to defraud the courts and the ratepayers.  However, the nonprofit group expressed remorse about how LA leaders handled the crisis it has exposed over the last three and one half years.

LA City Attorney Failed to Disclose $242 Million DWP-funded City Slush Fund, Says Consumer Watchdog Legal Appeal  

Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer supported a deceptive notice to ratepayers in a class action settlement over the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars in what amounts to a City slush fund, according to attorneys for Consumer Watchdog.

AG Xavier Becerra Should Take Over Public Corruption Probe At City Attorney’s Office About DWP Misbilling & Fraud That Led To Two Resignations

Los Angeles, CA --  Consumer Watchdog has called upon Attorney General Xavier Becerra to take over a public corruption investigation at the LA City Attorney's Office involving a conspiracy by just-resigned special counsels who colluded in a conspiracy to defraud ratepayers of relief in an LADWP mis-billing lawsuit.

Public Corruption At City Attorney’s Office Over DWP Misbilling, Self-Dealing & Fraud Leads To Two Resignations

Los Angeles, CA —  Consumer Watchdog has called upon City Attorney Mike Feuer to fully respond to revelations in LA Superior Court that his top attorneys and special counsels colluded in a conspiracy to defraud ratepayers of relief in an LADWP mis-billing lawsuit.

Former Enron Consultant To Be Reappointed As DWP Ratepayer Representative Without Job Review

Los Angeles, CA – Consumer Watchdog called the City Council’s vote to reappoint Fred Pickel as the head of the DWP’s Office of Public Accountability without a job review a power play and public disgrace that will leave them without a voice. Mayor Garcetti  will still have the opportunity to reject Pickel.

Watchdog Calls Garcetti Out On His “Pickel Problem” On #NationalPickleDay

Los Angeles, CA – Consumer Watchdog called on Mayor Garcetti to support a new city council motion by council members Koretz and Bonnin requiring a job review for the DWP Ratepayer Advocate Fred Pickel before his rehiring to the $298,000 per year job heading the DWP’s Office of Public Accountability. Pickel has not had a job review in his 6 and-a-half years on the job.

Re-nomination of Current DWP Ratepayer Advocate A Betrayal of Ratepayers, Consumer Watchdog Says

Los Angeles, CA -- The re-nomination for a second term of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s ratepayer advocate, Fred Pickel, by a city-appointed committee is a betrayal of all of the municipal utility’s ratepayers, Consumer Watchdog said today. The Mayor and City Council should reject the recommendation or abolish the Office of Public Accountability that Pickel heads, the group said.

Consumer Watchdog Calls For Audit Of Tainted Process In Search For New LADWP Ratepayer Advocate

Los Angeles, CA — Consumer Watchdog today called the process of picking a new ratepayer advocate to head the Office of Public Accountability at the LA Department of Water and Power biased and called for an immediate investigation by the LA City Controller.

“We write with evidence of misconduct in the selection of a new Ratepayer Advocate and call upon Controller Galperin to investigate immediately,” Consumer Watchdog's Jamie Court and Liza Tucker wrote in a letter to Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Controller Ron Galperin. 

New Report: LADWP’s Ratepayer Advocate Is Costing Angelenos Nearly $7 Billion Extra And Should Be Fired

Santa Monica, CA — Instead of pushing the country’s largest municipal utility to be leaner, greener, and meaner, Fred Pickel, the first ratepayer advocate ever appointed to protect the interests of LADWP ratepayers, has fallen down on the job. A new report, “The Price of Pickel” by Consumer Watchdog, finds that his failure to speak up for ratepayers against unreasonable rate hikes and bad projects is costing ratepayers nearly $7 billion.

For the report, click here.

Lawyers Get The Dough And DWP Ratepayers Get The Shaft, Sound Familiar?

A Superior Court Judge today approved a settlement of a class action lawsuit brought against the Department of Water & Power (DWP) and City of Los Angeles for illegally taxing ratepayers billions of dollars on their power bills and using it for city services, rejecting our objection. Under 2010’s voter-approved Prop 26, money raised from power rates that is not used to improve utility service is an illegal tax and to make it lega

Consumer Watchdog Challenges City Attorney Mike Feuer To Stand Up For LA Ratepayers Not Politicians In DWP Transfer Case To Be Heard Wednesday

Santa Monica, CA — Consumer Watchdog has urged LA City Attorney Mike Feuer to oppose a deceptive and inadequate Notice to ratepayers in a class action settlement over the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars in power rates to City coffers.

Wildfires Should Ignite Crackdown on State Farm To Be Better Neighbor

The wildfires devastating Bel Air, Ventura and Southern California's canyons are destroying homes in their path. Unfortunately, many of those homeowners are going to find that when they try to rebuild their homeowners' policies may not cover the real costs.

It's a sad cycle that happens after too many wildfires, include the historic devastation fires wrought recently in Sonoma and Napa Valley. 

DWP Rubberstamps $242 Million Tuesday Takeaway from Ratepayers In Violation Of Their Rights

Santa Monica, CA -- Today’s vote by the Board of Water and Power Commissioners for LADWP to transfer $242 million in ratepayer money to the City’s coffers is an illegal tax that should be either rebated or plowed into the LADWP’s electric infrastructure, said Consumer Watchdog and LADWP Advocacy Committee President Jack Humphreville.

Consumer Watchdog said that it was exploring legal options to have a court prevent the money from being taken from ratepayers to fill a city budget hole rather than for utility services.

Consumer Watchdog Decries LADWP Transfer Of $242 Million From Ratepayers To City Budget Without Voter Approval

Santa Monica, CA — The Board of Water and Power Commissioners for LADWP has put on its agenda a Tuesday vote to transfer nearly $242 million from “surplus” power rates — overcharges to ratepayers — to fill a hole in the city budget without voter approval at the ballot box.

Consumer Watchdog said such a so-called “transfer fee” should be illegal under Prop 26, which requires voter approval for such fees because they are really taxes.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Just Sold Los Angeles Down The Aqueduct

Mayor Eric Garcetti just sold out Los Angeles by pushing through the Delta Tunnels. Two of his five appointees to the Metropolitan Water District (MWD), the giant water wholesaler for the region, voted yes on diverting water from the Sacramento River under the San Francisco Bay Delta to the South, helping to ensure an overwhelming majority vote. 

Consumer Watchdog Kicks Off Campaign To Fire LADWP Ratepayer Advocate Fred Pickel

Santa Monica, CA — Consumer Watchdog, Food & Water Watch, DWP ratepayers and other advocacy groups rally today in front of City Hall to urge the Los Angeles City Council to fire DWP ratepayer advocate Fred Pickel for selling out ratepayers instead of protecting their interests.

“Pickel is an energy consultant whose bread has always been buttered by utilities," said Consumer Advocate Liza Tucker. "He has taken every opportunity to support LADWP while disregarding ratepayers and providing dismal customer service.

Consumer Watchdog Calls On LA City Council To Fire LADWP Ratepayer Advocate Based On His Backing Of Delta Tunnels

Los Angeles, CA -- The Los Angeles City Council should reject a recommendation by Fred Pickel, Director of the Office of Public Accountability at the LADWP, that the city back tunnels altering water diversions South from the San Francisco Bay Delta, and should fire him for once again favoring utility over ratepayer interests, Consumer Watchdog said today.

“Pickel’s assertions that the Delta tunnel project is affordable for ratepayers is pure fantasy,” said Consumer Watchdog Advocate Liza Tucker.

Consumer Watchdog Calls On LA City Council President To Appoint Consumer Advocate To Find Next Ratepayer Advocate, Says Pickel Failed LADWP Customers

Santa Monica, CA---Consumer Watchdog today urged City Council President Herb Wesson to name a consumer advocate to the citizens’ committee that will nominate the next ratepayer advocate at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. DWP’s first ratepayer advocate, Fred Pickel, is a power industry insider and former consultant to Enron who has failed ratepayers by consistently putting DWP’s interests above consumers, said the group.

LADWP Customer Bill Of Rights Nothing But Paper Without Overhaul Of Utility Bureaucracy And Independent Ratepayer Voice To Hold DWP Accountable

Santa Monica, CA -- The LADWP’s pledge to give customers a bill of rights is a step forward, but the LADWP remains in need of a major bureaucratic overhaul, Consumer Watchdog said today.

Consumer Watchdog Tells LA Mayor That Ratepayers Should Be Paid Interest On Money DWP Owes in Overbilling Scandal And Calls For Transparency About DWP Problems

Santa Monica, CA -- Consumer Watchdog wrote Mayor Eric Garcetti today that last-minute revisions to a DWP ratepayer overbilling settlement now boost attorneys’ fees 46 percent to $19 million from $13 million, but shortchange ratepayers who should be paid interest on refunds owed them for three years.

Consumer Advocates And DWP Ratepayers Facing Threat Of Disconnection Over Erroneous Bills Denounce Measure RRR For Giving DWP Too Much Power To Raise Rates

Santa Monica, CA — LA Charter Measure RRR makes LADWP less accountable for its billing errors and allows for the utility to raise rates, enter into private contracts, and increase dangerous fossil fuel emissions without City Council or Mayoral oversight, Consumer Watchdog and Food & Water Watch said today.

Misbilled LA DWP Ratepayers Denied $44 Million In Refunds Until Mid 2017 Despite Pledge Of 2016 Payments

Santa Monica, CA — Consumer Watchdog today said that court filings by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power showing misbilled ratepayers will have to wait until mid-2017 to get $44 million in refunds are unacceptable and Mayor Garcetti should act immediately to pay ratepayers back.  

Judge Rejects Preliminary Approval Of DWP Overbilling Case For Third Time: Calls For Pro-Consumer Changes, Warns Attorneys Won't Be Paid Until Ratepayers Are

Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle for the third time failed to grant preliminary approval to an overbilling settlement with DWP ratepayers, calling for more disclosure and pro-consumer changes.  He said he would grant preliminary approval if those conditions are met.

Consumer Watchdog Chides LA Mayor And City Attorney For LADWP Settlement That Delays Ratepayer Refunds into 2017 And Beyond While Paying Millions To Lawyers Quickly

Santa Monica, CA — The latest proposed settlement of a $44 million LADWP overbilling scandal offers some improvements over the last two, but still unfairly disadvantages ratepayers, Consumer Watchdog said today in a letter to LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and LA City Attorney Mike Feuer.

Ratepayers and Consumer Advocates Urge LA Mayor and City Attorney To Pull Back Anti-Consumer DWP Over-Billing Settlement

Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog and overbilled ratepayers today urged Los Angeles City leaders to immediately fix or withdraw a “breathtakingly anti-consumer settlement agreement” over tens of millions of dollars in overbilling at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP).

Consumer Watchdog Asks LA Mayor, City Council To Demand Google Remove Video With City Employees Touting Google Apps; Says Apps Can Have Frightening Results

SANTA MONICA, CA – Google Apps can be dangerous, Consumer Watchdog warned today and the public interest group said Los Angeles has been responsible for "giving the first imprint of credibility and acceptance to a program that has failed Los Angeles and other communities with frightening consequences."