(This article appeared in the January 24th, 2012 edition of the Century City News)
Ask David Nahai about the state of affairs in America and he thunders back, “Congress needs to get its act together.” He is referring to the gridlock that paralyzes our political system and he is referring to the uncertainty of Congress ignoring important issues that need solutions now. David Nahai is the foremost authority on the two problems that are facing humanity and he hails from Century City. Where humanity will get energy and water are daunting challenges that face us for our future. David is optimistic that solutions are available but we need to make many changes in how we live. “There is a tremendous interplay between water and energy, 20% of California’s energy is spent to pump water from one place to another.” Clearly the cheapest and cleanest energy unit comes from the energy unit that isn’t used. Changing how we get our water could provide us with significant savings on the energy frontier. David is an expert in the field of water and energy and he talks fluidly about both sides of the equation – production and consumption. Clearly he knows how to preserve every drop of our precious resources… but he also has a vision for how humanity will conquer the daunting challenges that face us.
He encourages small businesses and individuals to make changes now that are voluntary warning that down the road those changes may become obligatory. David proudly wears the monikers of environmentalist and entrepreneur. He tells everyone that going green is a double entendre – meaning that you reduce humanity’s carbon footprint while at the same time making money. The green rush in California is fueling our economy. The green rush is our future.
He speaks candidly about DWP’s challenges that lay ahead. Coal will soon be eliminated as an energy source and DWP is working hard to transition to cleaner sources of energy. David refers to the DWP website for a wealth of information about rebates and incentives for going green. This information is a great resource to make more money or to shave the costs of any household or business. He is quick to point out the green initiatives at Watt Plaza where he offices. Watt has been one of the early adopters of green technology to conserve water, recycle, and reduce their carbon footprint.
With Los Angeles being the tipping point of the world on the green frontier, we in Century City might just be the tipping point of the tipping point. David is available as a lawyer and consultant. He speaks regularly at green conferences worldwide. For more information about David go to
H. David Nahai has an extensive record of success in both the private and public sectors, as a lawyer, CEO, government official, environmentalist, business owner and community leader.
Nahai is a partner in the law firm of Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith and is a co-chair of the Firm’s national energy, environmental, water, and real estate practice. Nahai is also the President of David Nahai Consulting Services, LLC and is Senior Advisor to the Clinton Climate Initiative.
David Nahai Consulting Services advises and assists public and private entities involved in the environmental sector, with particular emphasis on renewable energy, energy efficiency, water conservation and wastewater treatment and recycling projects.
The Clinton Climate Initiative is a division of the Clinton Foundation. The mission of the Clinton Climate Initiative is to bring about the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale through specific project partnerships with governments around the world.
Until October, 2009, Nahai served as the Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), the largest municipal utility in the United States. In this capacity, Nahai oversaw more than 9,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $4.5 billion. Nahai resigned as CEO in October, 2009, but served as consultant to LADWP until December 2009.
Nahai was nominated as LADWP’s CEO by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and confirmed by the City Council in 2007. He served for two years on the LADWP Board of Commissioners prior to becoming CEO. He was appointed to the Board in 2005 and became Board President in 2006.
Nahai led an overall transformation of the LADWP that included the unprecedented expansion of the utility’s renewable energy portfolio; the origination and execution of the City’s groundbreaking Water Supply Plan; the attainment of historic reductions in water consumption in the City; the realization of record breaking energy efficiency levels; and the launch and implementation of water and power infrastructure improvement programs. Under his leadership, the LADWP increased its renewable energy portfolio from 3 percent in 2005 to around 15 percent by the end of 2009, and achieved the completion of Pine Tree, the nation’s largest municipally owned wind farm, and the Lower Owens River Project, viewed as the most extensive river restoration program in the United States. Additionally, Nahai oversaw the creation of the Los Angeles Solar Plan, the most ambitious solar program of any municipal utility in the U.S. Under Nahai’s leadership, LADWP garnered numerous environmental awards, including the 2008 Climate Change Leadership Award from Green California and the 2009 Los Angeles Heritage Award from Project Restore.
In addition to his expertise in the energy field, Nahai is widely recognized as a leading expert on water issues. He served for over 10 years on California’s Regional Water Quality Control Board, which safeguards the quality of surface, ground, and coastal waters in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, an area with over 11 million residents.
At the Water Quality Board, Nahai served under three different Governors. He was first appointed by Governor Pete Wilson, and re-appointed by both Governor Gray Davis and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Nahai was elected to an unprecedented four terms as Chairman of the Board in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2006.
Nahai is credited with reinvigorating the effectiveness of the Water Board and spearheading some of its most aggressive programs, especially in the area of coastal protection. During Nahai’s tenure, the Board was awarded the Environmental Leadership Award by Keep California Beautiful, in appreciation of the Board’s pioneering work in the area of urban run-off pollution. The Water Board’s prestigious annual awards have been named the “H. David Nahai Water Quality Awards” in recognition of his service. He resigned from the Board in 2007, upon accepting the CEO position at LADWP.
Nahai began his career in the private sector as an attorney three decades ago, working at some of the United States’ largest and most respected law firms. He started at Loeb & Loeb and was a partner at Memel, Jacobs, Pierno, Gersh & Ellsworth, at Finley, Kumble et al and at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. In 1992, Nahai formed Nahai Law Corporation, specializing in real estate, corporate, environmental and commercial law. He divested his interest in the firm in 2007.
As a transactional real estate and environmental lawyer for 30 years, Nahai has represented clients and performed transactions at the highest levels, working on complex matters and supervising teams of attorneys. Nahai is an AV rated lawyer.
Nahai has been the recipient of numerous awards and commendations. In 2003, he received the Environmental Champion Award from the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters. In 2008, he was honored as an environmental leader by Heal the Bay. He has been twice honored for community leadership.
Nahai sits on the Boards of the California League of Conservation Voters and Heal the Bay, and has served on the Boards of numerous charities, including the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, the Iranian American Jewish Federation, and the Jewish Community Foundation.
Nahai holds graduate and post-graduate degrees in law from the London School of Economics and the University of California at Berkeley, and was a Visiting Scholar at Berkeley.
Nahai is a frequent speaker and radio and television guest regarding environmental, climate change, water, and energy issues.