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L.A Times Editorial: Measure B: L.A.’s secret solar plan

EDITOR’S NOTE: Despite an army of DWP and “Yes on B” operatives, millions of dollars in special interest money and overwhelming public support for solar energy, opposition is growing to Measure B. Bel Air Beverly Crest, Tarzana and Valley Village Neighborhood Councils have joined the groundswell of community groups that voted to oppose this ill-conceived, unplanned ballot proposition. Visit the nomeasureb.com website and read today’s L.A. Times editorial. 

The Measure B Mess

Angelenos will be asked to weigh in on a solar power plan on the city’s March 3 ballot, but officials haven’t really told us what we’re voting on.

January 29, 2009

The City Council was unfazed in November when no one from the Department of Water and Power or other City Hall offices could answer some of the most basic questions about a proposed solar power measure the council was about to put on the ballot. How much will it cost ratepayers? Is it financially feasible? How much money will it take to recruit and train new workers?

DWP General Manager H. David Nahai said his agency would have the answers after Huron Consulting Group completed its independent analysis of the plan sometime in January, and council members promised one another that would leave plenty of time for open discussion about the “Green Energy and Good Jobs for Los Angeles” program that they seemed too rushed to deal with at the moment. They scheduled the measure for the March 3 election.

The Huron report is due next week, but don’t expect that to spur a month of thoughtful City Council discourse based on the findings. The report is not about Measure B (or Charter Amendment B, take your pick); it’s an analysis of the entire three-part Solar L.A. program, of which Measure B is one part. It won’t tell ratepayers how much their rates will rise. It can’t. There are too many variables — just as there are too many variables to let voters know how much rates will rise without Measure B.

Yet there was Nahai at last week’s commission meeting urging everyone to hold their fire until the Huron report is out. “Until then, I feel that all of the conjecture really does a disservice to the debate,” he said.

The Yes-on-B campaign is in high gear, asking voters to adopt the measure. Voting begins Monday with mail balloting. Yet we’re not supposed to ask questions until the Huron report is out? Meanwhile, where is the language of the measure we’re voting on? Have voters seen it? Is it available? Is it on the city’s website? No — the city clerk’s office is shooting for posting the language sometime toward the end of next week. (If you don’t want to wait, you can find the ballot language on our website, at latimes.com/opinion.)

This page wants smart “in-basin” solar power as an integral part of the city’s energy generation and distribution strategy, and we remain open to the idea that this ballot measure may be the best way to get it. But the process seems designed to get voters to sign off on a plan without sufficient knowledge of it, and it is undermining a broader discussion of solar power in Los Angeles. There is a point at which process gets so bad that it outweighs substance, no matter how good that substance may be. We’re rapidly approaching that point.

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7 Responses to L.A Times Editorial: Measure B: L.A.’s secret solar plan

  1. Anonymous says:

    Incredibly, you guys may actually kill this thing!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Besides the Huron report next week will be the infamous $1 million DWP survey from PA Consulting. It will cover Measure B in unflattering terms. Is it any wonder DWP went back to its long-time relationship with Huron Consulting to buy a hopefully more favorable review? Hang on to your absentee ballot. You’re about to get a ton of information our City Council didn’t have a clue about when they sold out to the special interests to put Measure B on the ballot.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I got a phone call yesterday from the “Yes on Measure B” Campaign. The guy was a City employee. He clarified that he had “volunteered” to phone bank in favor of Measure B.
    Here was his TOTAL pitch: “We are asking voters to approve Measure B because we need solar power to reduce the City’s reliance on coal-powered electricity plants that pollute the environment.”
    The phone banker was unable to answer any detailed questions about the Measure and confessed that he had been given a script to read with no training.
    If the Yes Campaign’s management style is any indication of what voters would get if they voted for this rip-off, we are in deep doo-doo. They have not even trained their calling staff!
    This turkey deserves to go down in flames. It is clear that Council President Garcetti pulled the wool over the eyes of his own colleagues to get this on the ballot — supressing a consultant’s report that warned the City of the risks of this program. Those in CD 13 ought to be looking at Garcetti’s credible challenger in the upcoming March election: Gary Slossberg. http://www.gary4citycouncilla.com
    Garcetti won’t debate Gary. Maybe Eric is afraid that his embarassing role in Measure B would come up at the debate.

  4. Ellie Brooks says:

    Question: in what area of Los Angeles are these solar panels to be manufactured? China?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Manufactured is a bit of a misnomer. Putting the high value foreign made parts into a frame and adding electrical connectors is more apt. If someone was talking about putting in a $2 billion plant to manufacture the solar cells, now you have jobs. Unfortunately there are lots of hazardous materials involved, both in manufacturing and in the finished product, and nobody has addressed those issues in this plan.
    Now think of the environmental approvals necessary to build a $2 billion plant in California, let alone Los Angeles. This could easily take 5 years start to finish. Of course Measure B’s 400 MW is installed by then. So, to get the photovoltaic cells, the high value component, China and Malasia and Taiwan and Japan get the bulk of the Measure B dollars from the DWP ratepayers, just so the IBEW can add a few hundred workers to the DWP payroll.
    To keep your perspective, with 3.8 million residents and a $3.6 billion program, that’s almost $1,000 for every person in Los Angeles, and depending on how that is financed the cost will be two or three times that to the ratepayers. The big question: WHY DID THE CITY COUNCIL PUT SUCH AN ILL-CONCEIVED PROPOSAL ON THE BALLOT?

  6. meterman says:

    Anonymous 9:34am the big question: WHY DID THE CITY COUNCIL PUT SUCH AN ILL-CONCEIVED PROPOSAL ON THE BALLOT? The answer is because the lights are on at city hall but no one is home. They do not have a clue on what’s going on. Joined to the hip of the mayor they do know how to rubber stamp every unread proposal that comes across their desk.
    Vote NO on Measure B Solar Scam

  7. I believe you need to put a video clip to your post in order to make it much more fascinating. Though I appreciated the way you write

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