Los Angeles, long fighting its reputation as one of the least green cities in the country, is making real changes to improve its standing.
City leaders and members of RePower LA gathered Monday, September 17, to recognize the City’s major strides in energy efficiency. The event took place at a South L.A. home while workers demonstrated an energy efficiency upgrade on the residence. It was part of a Department of Water and Power (LADWP) program championed by the RePower LA coalition. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, City Council President Herb Wesson, Councilmember Richard Alarcon, DWP General Manager Ron Nichols, business leaders and residents each spoke about the importance of energy efficiency and job creation, particularly in the current economy.
“We’re proud to announce a renewed commitment to energy efficiency from the Department of Water and Power,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “DWP has proposed to more than double its energy efficiency budget.
How different would California look with Proposition 32’s passage? To imagine, it’s not necessary to focus on a Golden State without the legacy of its unions, but rather to think of a California in which only the rich and powerful have a say in Sacramento and in the polling booth.
“It will have a devastating effect,” says John Logan, director of Labor Studies at San Francisco State University, of Prop. 32’s impact. “California would be transformed as a state.”
On environmental issues alone, Prop. 32 stands to roll back decades of progress in making California a global leader in green policy-making.
“You don’t have to go very far back to find likely examples of how it would change California,” Logan says, adding that Prop. 32 would remove labor’s voice from nearly all political conversations.
That voice is not always confined to lobbying efforts in the state legislature.
On Monday, September 17, RePower LA will be joined by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, City Council members, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power general manager Ron Nichols, and others at the site of a South L.A. home undergoing an energy efficiency upgrade.
City leaders are now touting the programs, initially proposed by the RePower LA coalition, which are upgrading small business facilities and the homes of those struggling in the current economy. The customers reduce their energy use and save money, L.A. reduces its reliance on dirty coal-fired power plants, and members of our hardest-hit communities are able to access good career path jobs through the Utility Pre-Craft Trainee program of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 18.
With such win-win-win potential, it is good to see LADWP and city leaders embracing energy efficiency as a central pillar of L.A.’s future.
(Editor’s Note: Thanks to the strong advocacy of the Natural Resources Defense Council and others in the RePower LA coalition, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has taken important steps towards becoming the greener, more efficient utility that will power the region through the next century. Earlier this summer, the LADWP Board more than doubled its investment in energy efficiency, and it recently followed that by embracing strong principles to guide future policy.)
The resolution commits LADWP to “aggressively promote and achieve energy efficiency across all customer segments and energy end uses as a key part of LADWP’s long-term, supply-side energy procurement strategy.”
What does this mean?
After a 4½ hour hearing, including strong testimony from members of the Don’t Waste LA coalition, the L.A. City Energy & Environment Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee on Waste Reduction & Recycling unanimously approved pushing a policy framework for an exclusive franchise system with strong standards. Yesterday, I posted the testimony I provided at the hearing.
This is a big moment for L.A. waste policy because at the conclusion of the hearing, these committee members determined that an exclusive franchise model has the best likelihood of success to achieve environmental objectives. Despite claims otherwise, after careful deliberation, the committees decided that they want to create a national model for sustainability in the waste collection for multi-family and commercial properties.
Overall, I was happy these council members were not duped by proposals of opponents of strong reform who promised benefits overnight.