L.A. DWP Seeks Comments On Its Energy Plans
About thirty members of the public pushed the DWP to make bolder and faster changes on Monday, when the agency presented its 2010 Integrated Resource Plan to West Los Angeles residents. The workshop, which is the second of six, was a chance for the department to solicit feedback on its IRP, a long-range plan that attempts to predict future energy needs and account for variables like the economy and environmental regulation, while focusing on clean energy and cost efficiency.
One key question the DWP is seeking to answer in its workshops is just how much Los Angeles consumers are willing to pay for changes to the current structure. In breakout discussion sessions, facilitators asked members of each group if they would pay a 5, 15, or 25 percent increase in rates for more renewable energy, or no increase at all.
The West Los Angeles groups supported an increase in rates, but just how to structure those rate increases and what they’d go toward – whether more solar, wind, geothermal or even nuclear power – remained very much up for debate.
Irma Silverstein, a member of the League of Women Voters, brought up the ongoing public criticism of high DWP salaries and asked that such external costs be brought into the discussion over rates.
But Daniel Margolis, a physician at UCLA, said he is not concerned about increased cost to ratepayers.
“For me, the amount that we pay now to build this infrastructure, will more than pay for the environmental and monetary costs that would accrue in the future if we don’t invest in renewable energy now,” he said.
Margolis said he wants the option to choose renewable, non-polluting sources and for the LADWP to move towards 100 percent green energy.
Another attendee, however, voiced doubt about whether utilizing renewable resources could ever go hand-in-hand with the DWP’s profit goals, adding: “The DWP is in the business of selling water, so why would they want to capture it for free?”
Despite a current of skepticism, workshop attendees rallied around a call for more renewable resources at a faster pace. The majority pushed for the plan to include provisions for feed-in tariffs that would allow consumers who purchased solar panels or wind turbines to sell excess power back to the DWP over a fixed time period at a fixed rate.
Michelle Garakin, of the Los Angeles Business Council, strongly advocated for a solar feed-in tariff system.
“It’s crazy, there’s so much solar potential,” she said.
The Business Council has commissioned UCLA to study solar feed-in tariffs in Los Angeles, and according to Garakin, the results, in terms of solar potential and rates, are exciting. There is currently no provision in the IRP draft for a feed-in tariff.
The DWP hasn’t yet settled on a final path within the IRP, but details of what the mix of renewable resources will look like and where they will come from, should emerge by the end of 2010, according to the agency.
A summary of feedback from the workshops will be posted online by DWP in a couple of weeks.
Reach reporter Emily Frost here.
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