Robert V. Phillips, who oversaw the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power from 1972 to 1975, created a plan to ration electricity that helped Los Angeles through the Arab oil embargo in the early 1970s. The five-month embargo by Arab nations that began in 1973 left the DWP critically short of fuel needed to power its generators. To cope, the department installed a voluntary rationing plan based on historic usage; customers who failed to conserve were fined. After electricity consumption fell 17%, the conservation plan was seen as a model for utilities nationwide.
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