REGION : 5 More Cities Sign Pact to Join New Consortium

After nearly half a year of preparation, representatives of Culver City and four other cities Wednesday signed a joint-powers agreement intended to help them save money by buying electric power and other goods and services in bulk.

Charter members of the newly formed Southern California Cities Consortium also include Lomita, Carson, Hawthorne and, most recently, Gardena. The Redondo Beach City Council is scheduled to take up the issue on Tuesday, while Lawndale and Inglewood have it on their agendas for later this month.

Although Santa Monica and Beverly Hills have been sending representatives to the meetings, they have not joined the group.

Culver City Mayor Albert Vera, who has spearheaded the effort, said that while he is glad to have five official members, the group will keep looking for more.

"This is the fruit of all our hard work," Vera said. "A new system of government has been born. This is the first time we can say to each other: What do you need? Who can we raise hell with for you?"

Once the consortium members have registered with the state as a joint-powers authority, they can begin negotiating with Southern California Edison Co. for a proposed 25% rate reduction in electric costs.

The group also plans to draw up a proposal for the California Public Utilities Commission, requesting that the five cities be allowed to buy power together if the industry is opened up to competition, said James Boulgarides, who is chairman of the consortium and a city councilman from Culver City.

A deregulated electrical industry in California will be among the subjects that the commission will cover in a restructuring proposal to be released on Wednesday. After opening the plan for comments, the commission is expected to issue a final report in June.

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