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Head of DWP is seeking to retire, Garcetti aide says

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power General Manager Marcie L. Edwards, appearing at a 2015 meeting on proposed rate hikes.
(Barbara Davidson/Los AngelesTimes)

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power General Manager Marcie Edwards is in discussions with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office over the timetable for her departure from the agency, a mayoral aide said Friday.

Edwards, who has been in her post nearly 2½ years, is interested in retiring but has not set a specific date, said Vicki Curry, a Garcetti spokeswoman.

Curry said Edwards, who earns $350,000 annually, will remain in her post at least until the end of August. She would not confirm whether Edwards will remain general manager through the end of the year.

The ideal arrangement “would have a transition,” Curry said. “So that’s what’s being worked out.”

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DWP spokesman Joseph Ramallo said Friday that Edwards was unavailable for comment.

An exit by Edwards could complicate the mayor’s promise to reform the utility, which serves 1.4 million customers. Garcetti had deputized Edwards to bring a steady hand to an agency long known for a lack of stability in its upper management.

Garcetti, appearing Friday at an event on energy conservation, would not say whether Edwards is interested in retiring. But he praised her work at the DWP so far, calling Edwards a “change agent’ who has focused on customer needs and stabilized the department.

“Reform at the DWP is bigger than any one of us,” Garcetti said. “It goes on no matter what. I think there will be many chapters.”

The DWP has had seven general managers since 2006, three of them serving in an acting or interim basis. When Garcetti offered Edwards the job in January 2014, he said she would help him make the agency more efficient and more closely managed.

“During the mayor’s race, L.A. voters gave me a mandate to reform the DWP, and that’s exactly why I nominated Marcie Edwards,” he said in 2014, not long after offering her the job.

Talk of Edwards’ departure comes at a time of uncertainty at the DWP. The agency is in the middle of a major legal dispute with a contractor over the disastrous rollout of its new billing system, which resulted in customers receiving inaccurate and inflated bills.

The City Council recently put a measure on the Nov. 8 ballot to rework the way the DWP is governed, doing so with strong backing from International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18, the union that represents most DWP employees. And separately, city leaders are expected to hold negotiations next year with that union on a new multi-year contract.

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Edwards, 59, spent 24 years at the DWP before leaving to run Anaheim’s municipal utility. At the end of her first DWP stint, she complained about the utility’s “seeming inability to get things done.”

In recent months, Edwards had asked city lawmakers to give her more latitude to do her job. At one hearing, she requested measures that would make it easier for both her and the DWP’s five-member board to award contracts.

The council responded by backing proposals that would allow the DWP general manager to approve contracts of up to $5 million without board oversight. The current maximum is $150,000.

david.zahniser@latimes.com

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Twitter: @DavidZahniser

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