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From the Desert to the Sea, DWP Is the Enemy

Editor’s Note: Even as the City Hall power structure argues Proposition B will avoid the need to build costly high-voltage transmission lines to bring green power to Los Angeles, it is rushing forward to do just that: Build a costly high-voltage transmission line across the Southern California desert to bring green power to L.A. In both cases, the DWP’s goal is maintain its energy monopoly — whatever it costs the public, whatever damage it does to the environment. In both cases, the result is growing community opposition. Prop. B is under attack because it isn’t a solar energy plan at all but a payoff to the DWP’s union, the IBEW. The desert plan faces massive opposition because it will destroy beautiful and sensitive areas. The DWP has just rejected an offer to add its lines to existing SCE transmission towards along I-10. Sheila Bowers, a long-time Santa Monica resident who spends a lot time at her home near Joshua Tree National Park, sent this email that eloquently bridges the two worlds from the desert to the sea and she asks how we can all come together to bring green power to Southern California and protect the environment and our pocketbooks..IMAG012.JPGBy Sheila Bowers

Studded with the exact rock formations and unique plant and animal life, that made Joshua Tree rise from a simple desert into a National Park, and surrounded by flat-topped mesas with enormous spiritual significance for our native american predecessors there, this is an irreplaceable spot of endless beauty, tranquility, drama, danger and purity.

LADWP is planning to destroy this pristine wilderness with important cultural resources on it, and bulldoze, dynamite, scrape, poison, pave greenpath20_gfx_700.jpgand develop this gorgeous region, and force hundreds of people from their homes — people that will never see a single watt of the power, even though there are FANTASTIC solar resources right in LA that DWP resolutely refuses to tap, despite LA’s sprawl, urban heat islands and desperate need for local jobs and economic stimulus for residents. No, they want to destroy lives, property values and the fragile desert ecosystem (which happens to be a highly effective carbon sink when left intact), and jack up rates, to support their monopolistic desires.

So, who are the NIMBY’s now? Who is refusing to bear the costs of their own consumption in their own yards? Not rural desert dwellers, who are very anxious to have policies that will promote rooftop solar and microwind on our own properties – policies like feed-in tariffs which pay us for power we produce and feed into the grid, instead of forcing us from our properties to produce (and transmit) the same exact power on the same exact properties, only owned by monopolists.  Ironically, many of those in the path of this despicable death train are already living “off grid” in total harmony with their environments. How unfair is that?

We in the desert also want policies like guaranteed financing for PV (photo-voltaic), which can be repaid through AB 811 and the property tax system. Financing, incentives and compensation for power we produce are so basic, and so critical throughout the region, the state and the nation if we want to prevent the Robber Barons of Big Energy (including LADWP) from re-centralizing the grid and bottling OUR sun and OUR wind on OUR land and selling it back to us for a high profit, yet we still don’t have them.

Why not?  It’s unconscionable, and people need to know that Villaraigosa and Nahai are speaking for them when they say, in essence “Screw Joshua Tree. Screw our Ratepayers. Our ends (monopolistic chokehold over ratepayers) justify our means (destroying carbon sinks, poisoning and decimating wilderness areas and watersheds, impoverishing thousands of rural people, hijacking DWP ratepayers, denying economic stimulus and jobs to a city starving for them, etc.).”  Are they speaking for you?  If not, better have a word with their bosses, eh?

How can they find billions of dollars to build massive, wasteful,
unneeded and overpriced infrastructure, but they can’t find that same
amount to loan to ratepayers for PV, with guaranteed payback through AB
811?  How come it’s acceptable to jack rates 25% to pay for LADWP’s
capital costs, but it’s not acceptable to raise rates only $3-$4 per
month to subsidize the level of feed in tariffs that would turn the
entire city into a massive solar generation facility that does not
destroy the planet?  And that money would be coming into our community
directly – monthly checks! 

Why is it that Edison has offered
to share, under a long-term contract, their existing transmission
capacity from Salton Sea into LA, and David Nahai has snubbed them, as
though “renting is not an option” is an acceptable answer to someone
facing a wrecking ball at their family home in Joshua Tree so 3 more
McMansions 150 miles away can run extra plasma TVs?

Here’s my reply to you, Mr. Nahai, “Joshua Tree is not an option.”

can we coordinate efforts to get the winning solution I mention below
onto the table? As mentioned, even though I am facing eminent domain,
thanks to LA City Council policies, they refuse to speak with me about
it. Can you get it into the discussion with the Solar 8?  Can you get
it in front of the City Council, or at least get me in front of them?
Local point of use solutions cross all political parties, do not
require “belief” in global warming, and appeal to every single person
(other than those entrenched in the Big Energy Boondoggles). EVERYONE
wants solar panels on their roof, if they can afford them, and
especially if they can make money off them.

The time is now. The place is SoCal. The urgency is apparent. How can we make this happen?

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7 Responses to From the Desert to the Sea, DWP Is the Enemy

  1. Anonymous says:

    Ms Bowers is correct. I actually have considered those panels on my sunny south-facing
    roof. But at 87 I do not want to spend a fortune when all I have is my retirement savings and income. I agree, this should not be a DWP and Union project. Let the small business men
    compete for my small job. I do not want the LACITY Council or Mayor running my entire life.
    They are worse than tyrants, they have become
    vicious dictators. And we pay their wages. We are their bosses, people! They have to pay
    attention to the residents in this city.

  2. Lhogue says:

    Good post Sheila, and thanks for posting it Ron.
    When I first heard about Green Path North, I assumed it follow exactly the route suggested by SCE: along the I-10 corridor. Seemed like an okay idea. Then I learned that it would loop north near Joshua Tree. “Why the hell is that?” I asked myself.
    The answer, if this is anything like the proposed Sunrise Powerlink, another boondoggle of a transmission line SDG&E wants to build down here in San Diego, is that these utilities get paid just for building the power line. Doesn’t matter if any power ever gets carried on them, ratepayers will be footing the bill for the next 30 years. So of course LADWP doesn’t want to pay rent to SCE — they want to reap that profit themselves.
    It’s a similar scenario with just about every “green” power development proposed for the desert. The most rational approach — energy efficiency and conservation first, rooftop solar in urban areas second, followed by solar on disturbed lands in the desert only if absolutely necessary — is thrown overboard for the approach that reaps the biggest profits for large companies. This is always at greater cost to the desert and other environments, and to rural communities, not to mention higher rates for ratepayers. For ratepayers, there is also the lost opportunity to become energy producers and get paid for it.
    The people need to speak up and demand a Feed-in Tariff with reasonable payments for putting solar power on the grid, and for participation in the AB 811 financing mechanism (which I’m glad to say San Diego is initiating.)

  3. anonymous says:

    If in fact, people got to discuss stuff.
    If in fact people had a sense that they count.
    Maybe they’d chip in and put in their ideas- like granpa from the chair.
    Too freakin’ bad- we don’t listen.
    Greed and fear drive us. All in vain.

  4. Solar Sam says:

    Ms. Bowers, I agree that almost everything LA City is corrupt in its intent and pursuit.
    But like the Prop 8 opponents lost my support when they began their own “hate” campaign, you will win no friends hurling insults at us (LA residents).
    I didn’t vote for any of our clowns. I don’t have a McMansion or a Plasma TV. It doesn’t matter that we’re a “heat island”, as you call it. And if there ever was “sprawl”, you’re it.
    We already pay about $.15/KWH. Please don’t be advocating for a rate increase for me if you’re not paying it yourself. I am willing to pay to see our infrastructure refurbished, but the cost must be within reason. I do expect our utilities and public officials to be as cooperative and considerate as possible in their pursuit of new power generation, and I support your position.
    But please, be civil.

  5. claudia says:

    sheila, you summed up the backwardness of the solar plan quite nicely. ladwp will continue to get negative feedback on this solar plan because it inverts the State’s renewable to-do list, by starting at the bottom with transmission lines and large generation plants, instead of starting at the top of the State renewable “to-do” list, ie. efficency and conservation,and pv solar. i guess it’s only logical to business people, that one starts with the least expensive solutions first. if the mayor expects to fulfill his ambition of making los angeles “the greenest city in america”, he needs to be paying attention to what are the cutting edge technologies and solutions, instead of acting like the mayor of a city dabbling in power.

  6. LA’s mayor is bragging about a 1.3 GW solar plan, but up to 2/3 of that will come from outside LA. The skipper and his little buddy (David Nahai) continue to see LADWP as a revenue source for city coffers. They will never accept the obvious that there are plenty of rooftops within LA to generate 1.3 GW and more. Although supporting policy that promotes PV solar within LA is no doubt the fastest and easiest way for LA to really start becoming the “Green City” it would like the rest of the world to believe it is, Villiaragosa and Nahai instead endorse a higher profit expansion of industrial scale remote generation and transmission lines. LA residents and rate payers lose, rural residents lose, and people needing jobs that would be created by a rooftop PV endorsement lose. Maybe they should be more specific as to the type of green($$$) they are really talking about.

  7. Austin says:

    Solar Sam, please re-read Sheila’s letter. All of her insults are directed nt at LA residents, but the “clowns” you refer to. In fact, she asks you and other sensible LA residents to make your voices heard. The fact is, Mr. Nahai and Mayor V. have mostly ignored concerns from those outside their jurisdiction.
    As far as your fears of a rate hike, don’t you think that people who benefit from a project should pay the cost? Why should the cost be dumped on people living 150 miles away? We rely on a tourism-based economy here. Many of us who live here chose it precisely because there are still unspiled expanses and unbuilt ridgetops. Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Conservatives, Liberals, Environmentalists, Developers — just about everybody out here agrees that “Green Path” will seriously hurt our area. Please explain why we should pay for your benefit.

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