“You be the judge,” he said. The rate increase hits Angelenos on top of an automatic bump in rates approved last year to pay for energy-efficiency programs. Humphreville said DWP customers should not be surprised if their bills were 25 percent higher in the next two years. Jeffery Peltola, director of budget, rates and efficiency for the DWP, said the rate increases were desperately needed to maintain quality service. “If we don’t fix things now, make no mistake, we will be in crisis mode, and it will be more expensive,” Peltola said. Several neighborhood representatives suggested appointing a DWP customer advocate to avoid future communication problems. They also demanded better accountability from the giant city utility. “There are so many areas that we weren’t told about, so many things we don’t understand,” said Dan Wiseman of the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council. “We need one person that can advocate for the average person.” San Fernando Valley neighborhood councils did celebrate one victory: A Valley rate zone that will allow Valley DWP customers to use more power without paying more for it. The Valley zone will allow customers to remain in lower-cost rate tiers for longer periods of energy use. For example, a Valley homeowner will pay 13 cents an hour to use up to 1,500 kilowatts during the summer, versus 15 cents an hour for a West L.A. homeowner who uses a third less power. “In the Valley, the climate is different,” said Leonard Shaffer, a Tarzana neighborhood council member. “Air-conditioning is not luxury for most – it’s a necessity.” [email protected] (661) 257-5254160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The increase came during revelations the average DWP worker makes nearly $77,000 a year – nearly 20 percent more than the average civilian city worker. Most neighborhood council representatives said their communities were against the rate hike, mainly because of a lack of clear rate information from the DWP. “DWP is a public company, and as its owner we have a right to know what’s going on,” said Jack Humphreville, chairman of the DWP Oversight Committee. “The way the rate was spun conflicted with the what’s really going on.” Humphreville said hidden fees – such as energy cost increases that are automatically passed on to customers – could leave many people paying a lot more than the $1.75 a month more that DWP officials touted. HOLLYWOOD – Neighborhood council members Saturday questioned a controversial Department of Water and Power rate increase that many said was confusing – and misleading. “Our council voted down this increase because there was just too much we didn’t understand,” Woodland Hills representative August Steurer said at a monthly neighborhood council congress in Hollywood. “The average person doesn’t understand the DWP; (it has its) own language.” This week, the DWP board approved its first rate increase in 15 years. The plan would increase electric rates by 9 percent over the next three years, and water rates would increase 6 percent over two years.