Recently elected Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa this week appointed a wholly new board of commissioners for the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. They pledged to move more aggressively toward renewable energy. Meanwhile, the outgoing board, appointed by former mayor James Hahn, approved a controversial pay hike for department workers that would make them the city?s highest-paid employees. The Los Angeles City Council must approve the new appointments and the pay raise. Villaraigosa, who has called on the department to advance the time line for making 20 percent of its power with renewable energy from 2017 to 2010, said his appointees will "begin a new chapter in the history of the department, one that will focus on making Los Angeles a cleaner and greener city." The appointees voiced support for the mayor's goal and disputed the notion that a shift toward green power would have to be expensive. Environmentalists lauded the appointments. Villaraigosa appointed to the board Mary Nichols, former state secretary of resources under Governor Gray Davis and former assistant administrator for air in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President Bill Clinton. Nichols - - an attorney who teaches law at UCLA and worked as a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council early in her career - -is expected to chair the board. Joining Nichols will be attorney David Nahai, who serves on the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board; William Burke, president of the for-profit LA Marathon, chair of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and a member of the California Coastal Commission; Nick Patsouras, a former member of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority and president of his own electrical engineering company; and Edith Ramirez, an attorney with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedge, who specializes in intellectual property law and business litigation. Both Burke and Nahai sit on agencies - - namely, the air board and the water quality control board - - that regulate LADWP's power plants and other facilities. In addition, LADWP has sponsored Burke's for-profit LA Marathon, which operates under a contract with the city. However, the mayor?s office said that attorneys vetted the appointments and that both Burke and Nahai pledged to recuse themselves on any votes where there may be conflicts of interest. The department's outgoing board of commissioners agreed by a 3-1 vote to send a 16.25 percent five-year pay hike forward to the city council, whose members have criticized the compensation package (Circuit, Aug. 5, 2005). Even the outgoing commissioners voiced reservations about the cost of the proposal, but they noted that it was negotiated under parameters set by the council itself.