City Hall's Perpetual Power Machine

DWP union boss' solar energy plan will hit ratepayers, help politicians

With shameless audacity, the mayor and the three City Council leaders want to rush to the ballot a plan dictated by DWP boss Brian D’Arcy to install solar energy units on commercial, industrial and government buildings using city workers whose payroll and benefit costs are far higher than those in the private sector.


The plan developed by Working Californians -- a front group for D’Arcy’s International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers which represents nearly 95 percent of all DWP workers – would almost certainly lead to yet another round of rate hikes although a mayoral aide denies that.

D’Arcy has successfully fended off previous proposals for solar energy initiatives that would have spurred expansion of the industry in the private sector. His turnaround is based on being able to add hundreds of workers to the ranks of the IBEW which has long used its cash and manpower to exercise enormous power in city politics.

The council must act by Nov. 5 to put the measure on the March city primary ballot, leaving little time for public discussion of the controversial proposal. But with support from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Council President Eric Garcetti and President Pro Tems Wendy Greuel and Jan Perry, the plan likely will win easy approval.

"We're asking people to embrace what we're trying to do, which is deliver reliable and clean power," Greuel said, kissing off the lack of cost estimates and concerns raised by environmental activists.

In a frantic effort to catch up on renewable energy, the DWP is paying up to a 20 percent premium for wind power form Oregon, Utah and Mexico -- costs that are passed through directly to ratepayers and come on top of the 24 percent rate hikes already approved.

David Zahniser in the Times reports D'Arcy laid out his plan to Deputy Mayor Nancy Sutley and the three Council members on Friday and an announcement on their agreement was planned for Monday but delayed until today because of the brush fires. The goal of the plan is to generate enough solar energy to supply 100,000 homes with electricity.

D'Arcy, co-chairman of Working Californians, refused to discuss the plan, telling Zahniser: "I don't want to answer questions about it until we get through the procedural stuff."

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