Opinion: Don’t blame L.A.’s DWP or SoCal Edison for California’s expensive energy glut

Sutter Energy Center has been offline since 2016, after just 15 years of an expected 30- to 40-year lifespan.
Sutter Energy Center has been offline since 2016, after just 15 years of an expected 30- to 40-year lifespan.
(David Butow / For The Times)

To the editor: The Times mentioned the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power as contributing to an unnecessary power glut in California by building and running its own electric system. This is misleading. (“Californians are paying billions for power they don’t need,” Feb. 5)

Unlike investor-owned utilities, DWP is owned by its ratepayers and makes no profit from electricity sales. Over the past century, our customers have paid for a system that has provided exceptional reliability. We’ve kept our rates lower than other utilities while quadrupling our use of renewable energy over the past decade and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We are also repowering our coastal power plants, which are critical to keeping the lights on in Los Angeles.

DWP has done a very commendable job of meeting and exceeding regulatory mandates while keeping rates low. L.A.’s system is also recognized as potentially helpful to other utilities in meeting their renewable mandates. The challenge will be to not burden local ratepayers with costs caused by others and ensuring sufficient ratepayer value.


Local control and local ratemaking have helped deliver reliable power to Los Angeles for 100 years. We will continue to collaborate with other utilities and state regulators to create a clean energy future for California, while also ensuring our customers continue to benefit from a low-cost, reliable flow of electricity.

Mel Levine, Los Angeles

William W. Funderburk Jr., Los Angeles

The writers are, respectively, president and vice president of the Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commissioners.


To the editor: There are a couple of key points to add to the discussion about electricity in California. After the 2000-02 energy crisis, the state adopted policies and requirements to double efforts to use less energy and to ramp up to have renewable energy meet at least 50% of customer needs by 2030.

In addition to these changes, California is also closing or replacing older, inefficient gas-fired power plants that use once-through ocean cooling to reduce marine life impacts. Making these transitions has pushed costs up, but the cost of new renewable plants is coming down as their numbers grow, and less fuel is burned in the more-efficient, gas-fired plants, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


Most California residents, who use less energy than people in other states, have monthly electric bills in line with the rest of the country. At Southern California Edison, we rely upon the competitive market to meet more than 80% of the power needs of our customers. The limited generation we do own was mostly built decades ago.

Edison’s focus is on building and maintaining a modern electric grid that will facilitate California’s clean energy future.

Ron Nichols, Rosemead

The writer is president of Southern California Edison.

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