A Solar Controversy Heats Up in L.A.
A Solar Controversy Heats Up in L.A.

FEBRUARY 24, 2009, 7:15 PM
A Solar Controversy Heats Up in L.A.
NY Times, Green, Inc.

Web sites are cropping up with messages both for and against California Measure B, which would require the city utility to ramp up use of solar power dramatically.
On March 3, residents of Los Angeles go to the polls to decide the fate of a controversial solar power proposal.

Measure B, as it is known, would require the local utility — the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power — to ramp up solar power production dramatically by installing 400 megawatts worth of panels by 2014.

By way of reference, that is well over 200 times as much solar power as Google can produce from its Mountain View headquarters, and nearly one-third of the size of a record solar deal recently signed by Southern California Edison.

The controversy centers mainly on how Los Angeles — which relies more on coal than other California cities — should go about increasing its solar output. The ballot measure, which has union support, says that the solar systems should be “installed, owned, operated and maintained” by the L.A.D.W.P. (Financial institutions would be allowed partial ownership for tax reasons.)

Opponents charge that the utility has never done anything like installing large numbers of solar panels before, and it is likely to be more inept at it than more experienced private installers.

“In the case of Measure B, some believe that private solar companies, with deep expertise honed in a competitive environment, can provide the same solar service more cheaply than the D.W.P.,” wrote Adam Browning, the executive director of the non-profit Vote Solar Initiative, in a Los Angeles Times op-ed.

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa backs the measure, as do some environmental groups and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the utility’s union.

But the proposal has also garnered fierce opposition. Dueling Web sites both for and against the measure, are proliferating, as are, of course, dueling Facebook groups.

The Los Angeles Times has been covering both sides of the issue.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Comments: 0