The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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No blank check for free sunshine

The ballots have been cast and Los Angeles has spoken, but we don’t know what they said quite yet about the perplexing Measure B.

For those who were unaware Tuesday was election day, the unofficial results show 50.3 percent opposing the charter amendment and 49.7 percent in favor. A coalition of politicians, labor leaders and environmentalists hope the 46,000 yet to be counted ballots will push it through to victory.

Opponents of Measure B were overjoyed with the election results, saying that a slew of unions, business groups and neighborhood councils had managed to convey their anger over the city’s mishandling of the measure.

Some readers might be asking, ‘What’s wrong with solar energy?’ Nothing, it’s a great idea, but let’s examine the facts starting with the good points in the charter.

If after the remaining ballots are counted and the measure is passed it would generate electricity powered by the sun when it’s shining. It would also create new solar-related jobs and a program that produces 400 megawatts from the sun that shines on rooftops.

All sounds pretty good, but a closer look is needed.

First, the city can do all of these great things without passing Measure B. Second, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power already is implementing a similar program of solar energy. This along with the suspicious nature in which the city council snuck the initiative on the ballot in the first place seems to be more of a power play by council members and union members of LADWP.

When you get down to the nuts and bolts of Measure B it doesn’t state what the plan is for solar energy. It just sets the goals and the LADWP then sends the plans to the city council that can approve or reject it.

That’s our government at work, especially our tax dollars.

The charter would transfer the power of the current five-person commission to the council. It takes away what little political independence the solar energy commission has and gives it away to the council, with all the authority and the same amount of accountability, none. Does that seem fair?

My guess is Angelenos have sent a message to City Hall, stating they want cleaner energy, and are willing to pay for it, but not with a blank check.

If not for the rush to get the charter amendment on the ballot, Measure B would pass undeniably. Solar energy is a good idea, but with secrets and slight deception’mdash;meaning having the appearance that this was a voter sponsored initiative when in fact it was pushed through by city leaders- isn’t quite right.

Besides, Measure B won’t replace coal energy or fossil fuels. It’s powered when the sun is shining, which will help, but won’t put an end to our dependence on the harmful burning of fossil fuels that make our power plants inexpensive.

To fully go solar, taxpayers would have to dig deep into their pockets and right now, in this economy, that’s not a possibility. There is something very simple to remember: sunshine is free, but converting it into usable power is not. But until the LADWP can at least give an estimate of how much the charter would cost taxpayers, they can’t expect voters to write them a blank check without seeing viable results.

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