Pasadena Council opposes Solar Initiative

Pasadena Council opposes Solar Initiative

By Andre Coleman 08/07/2008

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A bare quorum of the Pasadena City Council voted unanimously to oppose Proposition 7, the Solar and Clean Energy Initiative, which could increase water and power rates by more than 30 percent.

Council members Steve Madison, Steve Haderlein and Victor Gordo did not attend the July 28 meeting at which the vote was taken.

“[If the proposition passes] we could be mandated to bring on renewable resources much, much faster than we need them, have the transmission capacity for them, or are able to pay for them,” said Phyllis Currie, general manager of the Pasadena Department of Water and Power. “The initiative sets arbitrary deadlines, timelines, and it takes away your ability as a council to balance the cost.”

Currie also said the initiative, which will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot, could lead to a 30 to 40 percent increase in water and power rates.

However, former Deputy State Controller Laurette Healy disagreed, saying the initiative would not allow for that large an increase. 

“The rate payer will never experience more than a 3 percent increase in their energy bill at any given time if the proposition does pass,” said Healy. “The point of this initiative is something we cannot ignore. We cannot ignore the fact that 47 percent of the greenhouse gases in the state of California come from our use of electricity and our primary source of fuel is coal and fossil fuel.”

In a report to the council, city staff said that if the proposition passed, the city could lose some control of the utility.

“If approved, Proposition 7 will eliminate the ability of this community to decide the timing and cost impacts associated with the ‘greening’ of its energy portfolio,” the report states. “This measure violates the city’s legislative principle of preserving local control of the city’s utility by the city council by making [publicly owned utilities] subject to the jurisdiction of the California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission.”

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