The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to increase water and power rates, moving Department of Water and Power customers one step closer to higher bills this spring.

According to the Los Angeles Daily News, the Energy and Environment Committee cleared the way for the full council to consider the DWP’s rate proposals at its Wednesday meeting.

Three of the city’s major business groups, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Central City Association and the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, all backed the rate hikes, citing the need to upgrade the water and power infrastructure.

If approved, rates will increase 4.7 percent for water and 3.86 percent for power each year for five years, the city's ratepayer advocate said.

The DWP estimates that customers who use typical amounts of water and electricity will see a 3 percent average annual increase to their monthly bills. At the end of five years, those customers would pay about $21 more on their monthly bills than they do now, the utility says.

Because the council vote was not unanimous, the city council will be required to take another vote on the rate hikes as soon as next week.

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