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Energy shifts

August 29, 2008

Re "Where's the 'on' switch?" editorial, Aug. 25

The Times' editorial criticizing Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) for not moving on SB 411, which would increase the renewable energy mandate to 33%, is long on rhetoric but short on reality.

SB 411 does nothing to remove the real barriers to renewable energy development: lack of adequate transmission, siting problems and permitting issues, and uncertainty over the extension of federal tax credits. It simply mandates more purchases while removing all cost controls, allowing large utility subsidiaries to jack up prices for renewable energy.

The Utility Reform Network has long supported the use of renewable energy and was instrumental in crafting the legislation that started the renewable energy revolution in California. But renewable energy must be affordable. The writers of SB 411 have fallen prey to developers who hope Californians will buy renewable power at any price. SB 411 eliminates the need for the Public Utilities Commission to approve above-market costs for new renewables. This is a recipe for creating opportunities for price-gouging.

The path to a sustainable and affordable energy future requires thoughtful reforms that address the real problems while protecting California's ratepayers and our environment. SB 411 simply hands our pocketbooks to developers without helping to remove any of the real barriers to renewable development.

Marcel Hawiger

Staff Attorney

The Utility Reform Network

San Francisco


It is surprising that your editorial lumped all utilities together and didn't acknowledge the work by the Department of Water and Power to diversify our energy mix and turn away from fossil fuels.

We have nearly tripled our renewable energy from 3% to 8% of our portfolio in just three years, have contracts in place to reach 13% and are on track to meet 20% by 2010.

We have not only adopted 20% by 2010 as a matter of policy but have committed to achieving 35% by 2020. Firm steps toward that goal are already well underway. Make no mistake, when it comes to abiding by and meeting the spirit of AB 32 by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the L.A. DWP is indeed sprinting toward clean, green renewable energy.

David Nahai

Chief Executive

Department of

Water and Power

Los Angeles

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