By a vote of 13-7, a motion calling for eliminating coal power as an energy source by 2020 in Los Angeles was not passed by the Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils.
Overall, there were about fifty people in attendance at VANC’s monthly meeting; each neighborhood council is allowed one vote.
A representative of the No Coal by 2020 movement made a presentation and claimed transitioning off of coal by 2020 would be feasible, without significant costs to the ratepayers.
In the discussion that followed, his claims concerning the cost impact were largely met by healthy skepticism. The general concern was that the objective is so large in scope and must compete with the DWP’s need to replace infrastructure, that no reasonable assurances could be made to shield the ratepayers from even higher rate hikes.
While a couple of individuals tried to paint taking a position of non support as anti-green, that was clearly not the intent of the thirteen neighborhood councils who voted it down. I am familiar with most of those who rejected the motion and can safely say they want to transition to alternative energy, but without a specific time mandate.
Stephen Box, who strongly objected to NC Valley Village’s earlier decision not to introduce a motion of its own, made a plea for the group to view the motion as a “vision” rather than a firm policy statement.
What Box does not realize, and he should know better since he’s been around the block, is that a motion can be hijacked by our electeds to support their views in a manner that may go beyond the intent that led to its passage. To assume our politicians won’t differentiate between a vision versus a commitment and, instead, spin the message as a mandate to do what they please, regardless of the cost, is naive.
If you don’t believe that, just remember how the trash fee hike was subverted and applied to other uses other than hiring the additional cops the mayor promised.
Getting off of coal by any year is not a simple or predictable proposition. We must insist that our officials balance cost with environmental needs. This is not a one-off decision to be made in a vacuum. There are competing needs for our rate dollars including water conservation strategies and efficient delivery systems.
By holding to a specific deadline, we are guaranteeing spurious decision-making, much like city departments rushing to spend their budgets before the fiscal year ends. It will be the same helter-skelter process that is already developing for the high-speed rail project.
Let’s proceed cautiously with weaning ourselves from coal, always respectful of the cost to the ratepayers.
Let’s also not forget conservation either. If city residents can decrease their water usage by 30%, why can’t we make a sizeable reduction in electricity usage, too?
Conservation may not get us all the way, but it could lessen the pain.