Nahai resigns from DWP

H. David Nahai has resigned from his position as CEO and general manager of the L.A. Department of Water and Power (DWP) to pursue a senior advisor position with the Clinton Climate Initiative. The resignation is effective immediately.

Nahai has been with the utility agency since 2005, when he was appointed to the DWP Commission by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, first as vice president and then as president of the commission. In 2007, the mayor appointed Nahai as the department’s chief executive. According to the Los Angeles Times, Nahai has been under fire from the start:

He drew strong criticism from the head of the powerful International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18, which represents thousands of DWP workers, who accused Nahai of doing too little to secure the passage of Measure B, a solar power ballot proposal that narrowly fell short of passage in March.

Neighborhood councils also complained of a proposal to increase electric rates. Residents of the San Fernando Valley have been upset in recent weeks over the DWP’s water conservation measures, which limited sprinkler use to two days per week. And residents across the city were perplexed by a string of water main breaks, including one that resulted in a sinkhole that gobbled up a portion of a fire truck.

Nahai did have support from environmental circles, however. Last spring, a series of environmental leaders sent Villaraigosa a letter urging him to ignore the complaints and keep Nahai.

In a statement released by the mayor’s office this morning (LA Observed), Villaraigosa said:

I would like to thank David Nahai for his four years of service at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power where he led the team responsible for increasing the City’s renewable energy portfolio, reducing water consumption to record levels, and putting us on the path to be coal free by 2020.

I wish him great success in his new endeavor as Senior Advisor to the Clinton Climate Initiative where he will use his experience and leadership skills to advance their core mission of finding and developing workable solutions to climate change.

In his resignation letter to the DWP Board, dated Oct. 1, Nahai wrote that he was “immensely proud of what I have been able to accomplish and will forever be grateful for the invaluable experience.”

Citing changes that have taken place at the agency, Nahai added that the mayor’s goal of 20 percent renewable energy by 2010 was within reach, that his administration had completed the largest municipally owned wind farm in the country and that water conservative efforts had resulted in unprecedented reductions, among other improvements.

As far as a replacement for Nahai, Rick Orlov of the Daily News is reporting that David Freeman will likely take over as interim head of the DWP:

It is expected that Deputy Mayor David Freeman, who headed the agency from 1997-2001, will be named interim head of the department, however will not apply for the permanent post.