If you are a company considering making a major investment, one which could define your cost structure for generations to come, it would be wise to tread carefully. Arming yourself with as much information as possible would not only be advisable, but essential.
The same applies to individuals. I would no more invest a sizeable sum in the commodities market than I would at a roulette table.
Although there are no sure things in this world but death for all of us and taxes for some of us, some things are more uncertain than others.
I don’t invest in areas where I lack sufficient knowledge. Likewise, I don’t take positions on matters of such complexity without listening to all sides. Even then, there is no guarantee I would feel comfortable with taking a stand.
The members of Neighborhood Council Valley Village were asked to weigh in on what could be the most challenging intergenerational issue facing us, even greater than pension reform.
A representative of the Sierra Club asked the board to pass a motion in support of the DWP eliminating coal as a power source by 2020. Due to the constraints of time, her presentation had to be brief and could best be described as an executive summary.
It was good information and food for thought. However, to ask for a motion in support of the 2020 goal (or any goal, for that matter) with an accompanying letter of support to the City Council on an issue so complex, with cost ramifications that could strain an already financially challenged municipality, was disrespectful of the deliberative process NCs should follow.
It was as if an insurance salesman said “trust me and sign on the dotted line” while placing a contract with a prospectus in front of you.
I was surprised to learn that about eighteen other neighborhood councils had already passed similar motions at the request of the Sierra Club and sent letters of support.
I am fortunate to be a member of a neighborhood council that believes in the vetting process and does not rush to judgment on matters of this scale. There was a spirited discussion with members taking opposing positions. No motion was passed; no letter of support authorized.
When it was suggested that members of the NC DWP Oversight Committee make a presentation on the subject at another date, the Sierra Club representative said, as if issuing an adverse warning, “they will simply oppose this position.” I guess transparency is not part of the club’s agenda these days.
Los Angeles and most of the developed nations will migrate to alternative energy in time. Coal as a source could also be reduced through conservation and passive solar improvements. However, China, India and other emerging economies will thumb their noses at the rest of us and burn away.
There should be no hard and fast timeline. Technology improves over time – we can expect the same for alternative energy. There is no need to lock a major segment of the city’s power generation capacity into applications still in the early stages of development.
It would not surprise me if the state’s objectives will be relaxed once the impact to consumers’ utility bills becomes apparent. There will be pushback from the ratepayers.
Although fossil fuels will generally rise in price over the long run, the conversion to solar will not be as simple as “build the infrastructure and the rest is free.” Maintenance and replacement of components is still an unknown, not to mention the source of materials and manufacturing. It is naive to assume the United States will be the leader in production in this very competitive world.
Note: I am a member of the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations, but I am also a ratepayer.