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Sun Sets on Solar Power Measure B

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Measure B, the local solar power measure, went down to a narrow defeat--so narrow that its proponents had started crowing about victory before the final count. If fewer than 2,000 votes had gone the other way, Measure B would have won. Now the local media is assessing what that defeat of a measure strongly supported by labor, the DWP, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa means for some of the local power players, and the very distribution of local power itself--and we're not just talking about electricity.

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The L.A. Weekly for this week celebrated blogs and social networks as key to this defeat of a Measure loved and pushed by so many city power centers, and in a campaign where Yes on B spent $1.6 million to No on B's $74,000:

Average citizens opposed Measure B's unknown but huge costs and its union monopoly. They had only three months to defeat a plan that City Council President Eric Garcetti needlessly jammed onto the March ballot -- purely as a political favor to Villaraigosa, who wrongly believed he could utilize the city ballot to pass Measure B, then use that victory to promote himself as pro-green in his possible run for governor......

The opposition surfaced on neighborhood council websites and in blog posts by people like DWP ratepayer advocate Humphreville, DWP Advocacy Committee activist Soledad Garcia, Citywatchla.com's Ken Draper, MayorSamBlogspot.com's Michael Higby and former Los AngelesDaily News Editor Ron Kaye, who blogs at ronkayela.com. ["Measure B: Tweet Against the Machine," L..A. Weekly]

Former L.A. Daily News editor and local activist Ron Kaye cheered what the anti-B campaign he fought for means for decentralized citizen power as it jousts with city officials in his post "Miracle in L.A.--City Hall Political Machine Crashes."

The public debate over Measure B--which would have required 400 megawatts of solar power panels to be installed on L.A. roofs by 2014--largely swirled around the issues of whether the DWP and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) should have monopoly locks over the process. The Los Angeles Times profiled IBEW's powerful leader, and powerful Measure B supporter, Brian D'Arcy today. D'Arcy thinks the fight isn't over, and intends to push Measure B's goals by other means. D'Arcy, the Times reports, "has vowed to persuade the DWP's five-member commission to do what voters would not: approve his solar plan, which would use the utility's workforce to add 400 megawatts of solar panels across L.A."

Los Angeles does face pressure from the state of California with Gov. Schwarzenegger's order for 33 percent of state power to be produced by renewable means by 2020. Los Angeles will doubtless see a future sun rise on some sort of concerted solar plan in the near future; just not necessarily shaped by Measure B.

The image connected with this post was taken by Flickr user Metro Library and Archives. It was used under user Creative Commons license.

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