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The nation's largest municipal utility, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), said it will slash up to $440 million from its annual budgets during the next three years. With Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa making the disclosure, LADWP said it now will make deep budget cuts, complete with a hiring freeze, despite facing increased regulatory mandates in the climate change area, aging infrastructure in its $4 billion municipal system and major long-term investment needs. Villaraigosa said the LADWP and its new General Manager Ron Nichols have been "hard at work" to help sustain what the mayor called "fiscal sustainability" at the city-run utility. A "vigorous assessment" of potential savings opportunities focused on areas at LADWP that could be cut "without jeopardizing quality of service," Villaraigosa said. LADWP is canceling noncritical facility upgrades and office remodeling, and various management perks are being cut, LADWP said. "Our customers are being forced to tighten their belts in this economy, and we need to be more frugal, too," Nichols said.

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