DWP watchdog warns high cost comes with L.A.'s coal-free plan

Weeks after Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa celebrated his plan to move the city off of coal-fired energy, a city watchdog has attached a giant price tag to the initiative.

Fred Pickel, the ratepayer advocate at the Department of Water and Power, said Monday that eliminating coal from the utility's power mix ahead of a state-mandated deadline is projected to cost more than $600 million. What that could mean for ratepayers' electricity bills is unclear, he said.

Pickel said he would urge city officials to look for ways to lower the costs Wednesday at a meeting of the City Council's Energy and Environment Committee. "The question is, can we do this cheaper?" he said.

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