Some would call me an environmentalist. I don't know why. I reuse the water that falls in my backyard in the winter. I reuse the trash and clippings I produce for mulch. I reuse the rain that falls on my roof, and I reuse the sun that shines on my house for energy. I guess you could call me a strategic opportunist as much as an environmentalist.
Los Angeles is a city known as much for it's sun as for its stars and it's dirty air. Now we have an opportunity to re-use our must abundant natural resource, the beautiful Southern California sun, and convert it into energy to power our homes, clean our air and give LA a new thing to be known as - the solar capital of America. The capitol of sun power re-users.
Measure B, the Solar Energy and Job Creation Program, up for voter consideration on March 3rd in Los Angeles, will mandate the creation of 400 MW of solar power by the city's municipal power company within five years. How much power is 400 megawatts? It is enough to power 100,000 homes with clean renewable energy. Using solar instead of coal or natural gas will result in a savings of 400,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the same as taking 100,000 cars off the road. AND that is just the start.
President Obama has called for revolutionizing our economy by creating five million green-collar jobs and LA can lead the way. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power estimates that 200-400 jobs are created per megawatt of solar energy. Additionally this measure will give a bid preference to LA based solar manufacturers. With unemployment in LA pushing 10% that is a big green stimulus. Not only will this measure create jobs but it will create a training academy targeting underserved communities so that these jobs go where they are needed most.
As manufacturing jobs flee our country like the birds of Capistrano (back before climate change screwed up that metaphor) folks talk about the end of an era...but Measure B represents the beginning of a new era. A time when we shed our dependence on fossil fuels and move to renewable energy using components largely manufactured right here in America and for my purposes right here in Los Angeles where we desperately need these new jobs.
California has always led the way on environmental protection and always reaped the benefits, pioneering everything from catalytic convertors on cars to stationary source reduction. LA used to be absolutely choked by smog. Since the 1970's, there are four times the amount of cars on the road, yet we have half the ozone. There were people who said it couldn't be done, but we took bold steps anyway. And it worked, we created new industries, have a far healthier city, and led the way for the rest of the country.
But we will never get over that dirty air hump till we rid ourselves of coal and natural gas fired power plants and replace them with clean renewable energy like the in-basin programs established by Measure B.
One of the most exciting aspects of Measure B is that it represents an historic partnership of organized labor and environmental groups coming together to create green energy and green jobs. It is thrilling to see the LA County Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO), SEIU and electrical workers alongside the NRDC, Sierra Club, CLCV, Heal the Bay, Coalition for Clean Air and others in one of the largest blue green coalitions to form in the Obama era.
I know solar power works, because it powers my home, my car and even my stove (I will save that for another blog!!). Now I hope it will power my city too. On March 3rd join me in voting Yes on Measure B.