Monday, November 24, 2008

L.A.'s Solar Initiative: Green Revolution or Insider Scandal?

LAIST reports today that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will unveil a plan to install solar panels throughout the city that will deliver 10% of the city's power within 12 years. Dubbed Solar LA, the mayor states the plan will jumpstart green economy jobs in Los Angeles and claims it's the "largest solar energy plan in the country."

While this sounds like music to the ears of all environmentalists, there's another perspective on this deal that explains the inner workings of how a plan like this gets formed and who really benefits from it:

From Ron Kaye LA:

The mayor cut thea deal with his long-time pal Brian D'Arcy -- the IBEW union boss who runs the publicly-owned utility behind the scenes -- to suddenly end 10 years of resistance to solar energy and embrace it as a city-wide mandate.

The price is that all the work must be done by IBEW workers on the DWP payroll -- humble workers who thanks to the mayor's generosity are enjoying 6 percent wage hikes in the nation's worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, increases that come on top of their already inflated salaries.

In a matter of a few short weeks -- without public hearings of any consequence or any kind of coherent analysis or study or even the involvement of the public and DWP commissioners -- the City Council agreed to put this outrageous plan on the March 3 primary ballot "to let voters decide."

Whoa! Now this proposal sounds terrible. Why is the City Council putting this plan before voters when it was drafted by the union that stands to benefit from it? Why didn't the council simply approve the plan without voter approval? Where is the truth? Is Solar LA the dream of green energy realized or a blank check to the Mayor's buddies at IBEW?

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