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Socal Edison hires former DWP manager who left amid controversy

UnionsJobs and WorkplaceEric Garcetti

Ron Nichols, the former Los Angeles Department of Water and Power general manager who stepped down in January amid a series of controversies, has been hired by Southern California Edison.

Through a statement, the utility company acknowledged the hiring and said Nichols would take on the role of senior vice president. He is scheduled to start next week.

"Mr. Nichols' valuable experience in regulatory affairs speaks for itself and SCE is looking forward to having him join the company," the statement read.

In his letter to Mayor Eric Garcetti, Nichols said he was leaving the DWP for personal reasons. He had been appointed by former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

At the time he left, Nichols had been at the center of controversy when he was unable to produce records showing how two nonprofit trusts related to the DWP spent more than $40 million in ratepayer money over the last decade.

The trusts — The Joint Training Institute and the Joint Safety Institute — were created to help improve relations with the utility’s biggest employee’s union, the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 18.

But Nichols could not explain to DWP’s governing board what those trusts had accomplished, even though he had co-managed them with the union’s leader during his three-year tenure with the agency.

Nichols also took heat for a $162-million computerized billing system that sent as many as 70,000 late or inaccurate bills to customers in the past few months.  The system, erroneously withdrew funds from customer’s bank accounts via an autopay function, sometimes resulting in overdraft and penalties for the customers.

When he stepped down in January, Nichols was the fifth general manager to leave the public agency since 2007.

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ruben.vives@latimes.com

Twitter: @latvives

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