Anything DWP brings out the absolute worst in CD 4 candidate Tom LaBonge, likely because it was the DWP that employed him prior to joining City Hall. In any fight between the public and the DWP, it's clear where his loyalties lie.
Killing Solar Energy Hopes for LA -- The Battle to Reform the DWP
By Ron Kaye on November 12, 2010
Two-faced guys like Dennis
Zine have a different problem. They think they can double-talk and
flip-flop and sell out and nobody pays enough attention to notice.
there's the passionate environmentalist and ultra-liberal Paul Koretz
who cares so much about green energy he called for a compromise that
would give the DWP most of what it wanted when it drastically cut
rebates for rooftop solar installations even as he led the fight to take
jurisdiction and overturn the policy.
The Council debate Friday
on taking jurisdiction under rule 245 was almost as crazy as the DWP
Commission's Nov. 2 decision to cut rebates by a third and then half
and then 80 percent over the next three years. .
There was the
devious Zine demanding to know why anyone would challenge the DWP when
the rogue utility is doing such a great job and LaBonge proposing the
DWP abandon rooftop solar on homes and businesses and put all its
efforts into greening public buildings.
Both men are hoping to
get their hands on the vast amount of cash IBEW union bully Brian
D'Arcy can throw their way, an immediate concern of LaBonge's who faces a
tough re-election campaign in March.
The is just one
battleground in a larger war that pits then entrenched interests of the
DWP which are being protected by Interim GM and First Deputy Mayor
Austin Beutner against aroused and increasingly well-informed citizenry
with the toadies and stooges on the City Council caught in middle
looking for whatever cover they can find.
The decision Friday
sent the solar rebate policy to the Energy and Environment Committee led
by Jan Perry, who is one of the few who has shown the courage to
actually stand up to the power of the DWP so it will be interesting to
see what comes back to the Council.
The specific reason for the DWP action is simple if incomprehensible: It's too successful.
2007, California's Million Solar Roofs Law took effect, requiring the
DWP to commit more than $30 million a year to funding a significant part
of the cost of solar installation.
DWP provided only an average
of $25 million a year since then for rebates of up to 35 percent of the
cost and created a modest 23 megawatts of rooftop solar energy, tiny
fraction of less than 1 percent of the city's power usage.
solar is hot now and people with money to burn want it, in no small part
because of the 30 federal tax credit, so the DWP has 1,500 applications
for rebates worth more than $100 million and create 35 megawatts of
Since the DWP only budgeted $17 million for rebates
this year, the solution the geniuses came up with was to virtually
eliminate the whole program.
That doesn't sit well with the
booming local solar energy installation industry which is creating more
jobs than any other part of the economy in these hard times and sees
what the DWP is up to as a deliberate attempt to kill the private solar
The other side of that coin is that the DWP and D'Arcy
have fought every effort to spur a private solar industry, preferring to
keep the jobs inside the DWP where salaries and benefits are so
spectacular and the IBEW gets a nifty percentage from every worker to
help elect officials who do their bidding or destroy those who get in
A decade ago, the DWP launched the largest solar
initiative in U.S. history but thanks to the IBEW and gross
mismanagement failed to built enough solar to power a suburban block.
year ago, the IBEW launched its own $3 billion rooftop solar
initiative, the Measure B boondoggle rejected by voters after a vigorous
grassroots campaign against the $1.5 million spent by the union.
Measure B was supposed to build 400 megawatts of solar with all the work
being done by the DWP and IBEW.
That's what this is all about,
why Zine opposed taking jurisdiction, why LaBonge wanted to keep solar
installations in the hands of the DWP/IBEW by using the money from the
Million Solar Roofs Law only on pubic buildings, why Koretz was looking
for a weak compromise.
The real war that has been building since
the mayor was foiled in his effort to get a 28 percent rate increase
last spring will come to a head on Tuesday when the Council decides on a
series of DWP reform measures to go on the March ballot.
IBEW launched its attack this week on all reforms with full-page ads in
the Times and Daily News claiming the Council is "rushing to place major
changes to the Department of Water and Power on the March ballot
without a thorough public discussion. While reform is needed, this
proposal has had too little deliberation and too little public input."
there has been a great deal of public input about creating a fully
independent Rate Payer Advocate and putting independent citizens with
expertise on the Board of Commissioners instead of the lackeys who do
the bidding of the nation's self-styled "greenest mayor in America.".
it's far from clear that the Council has listened to the public input,
preferring to look for ways to water down these proposals out of fear of
a fight with the IBEW.
We'll see on Tuesday whether any of the 15 Council members deserve to hold public office.