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Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA March 3, 2009 Election
Charter Amendment LA-B
Green Energy and Good Jobs for Los Angeles Program
City of Los Angeles

Charter Amendment & Ordinance - Majority Approval Required

Fail: 129,925 / 49.5% Yes votes ...... 132,569 / 50.5% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Information shown below: Summary |

Shall the Charter and Administrative Code be amended to authorize creation of a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power program to require production of at least 400 megawatts of solar power energy by 2014; provide for voluntary participation in the program by commercial, industrial, and institutional customers to allow installation of solar power systems on their property which would be operated and maintained by the Department in exchange for potential incentives; establish a jobs program and training academy to meet program participation demand; provide contract bid preferences for local solar power equipment manufacturers; require quarterly oversight committee reports and annual City Controller audit; and utilize a variety of funding mechanisms?

Summary Prepared by
League of Women Voters of Los Angeles
THE SITUATION: The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (“DWP”) supplies electric power to the City, and is the nation’s largest municipally-owned utility. Currently, the bulk of DWP’s energy comes from coal and natural gas. A substantial amount is also generated by hydroelectric sources, and a lesser amount by nuclear plants. Minimal amounts are generated by geothermal, wind and biomass, with solar energy making up less than one percent of the total. DWP has established a goal of generating at least 20% of its electricity from renewable resources (such as solar, wind and geothermal) by 2010.

THE PROPOSAL: This measure would amend the section of the Charter that deals with DWP, and amend a section of the City’s Administrative Code, to require DWP to create a plan to implement a solar energy program, to be installed, operated and maintained by DWP on properties within the City and City-owned airports, and to produce at least 400 megawatts of electric generation by 2014, pursuant to annual benchmarks detailed in the ordinance. The solar power installations would be the property of DWP and all work would be done by DWP employees, at the rates specified in their union contracts.

Major elements of the plan would include:

  • development of an academy to train DPW employees to install and operate solar power installations;
  • incentives, lease payments, rebates and loans for program participants; and
  • various outreach programs to educate businesses and the public about solar energy.

Within 90 days of approval of the plan by the City Council, DWP would have to submit to the Council details of a financing plan identifying resources, tax subsidies, state and federal grants, and other potential funding sources; and including any potential rate impact. Participation by DWP customers would be voluntary, and the program would not replace existing solar incentive programs. Oversight committees would be established to monitor implementation of the program, and an annual audit would be conducted by the City Controller.

FINANCIAL IMPACT: Until the plan proposed by this measure is developed, the specific costs and financial benefits of the program cannot be determined. Using current technology, this program would increase power system costs. Actual costs would depend on many factors, including project locations and the technologies to be employed. Funding for the program could include a blend of bond financing, federal and state tax credits and grants, and power revenues.

SUPPORTERS SAY: Measure B is an important step toward ensuring that future generations will not have to depend on expensive and highly polluting forms of energy. This measure will save lives, create good jobs, strengthen the City’s economy and make Los Angeles a center for solar technology. The DWP estimates that any rate increases resulting from this measure at the end of five years will be minor. In any event, the measure will save money in the long run since, over time, solar power will be significantly cheaper than power produced by fossil fuels. After waiting for decades, this measure will bring Los Angeles jobs and clean solar power now.

OPPONENTS SAY: There is a better way to produce more solar power, at a lower cost and using better technology. This hastily-conceived measure was placed on the ballot with no engineering and operational input from DWP and no consideration of the overall cost. All work will be done by DWP without competitive bidding, and skilled union members other than those members of the IBEW who are employed by DWP will be locked out. Instead of asking voters to approve a plan whose details are unknown, DWP should design a plan with the public’s involvement and present it to the City Council for the enactment of an ordinance.

  Official Information

L.A. City Clerk Election Division

  • Link titled "Find Your Polling Place and Sample Ballot" takes you to a 56-page pdf file including full text and arguments on all ballot measures
  • Voting at Your Polling Place - 3-page pdf file with specific instructions on how to use voting equipment and when to file a provisional ballot
  • Vote by Mail Application - signed copy must be received by City Clerk by February 24, 2009
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