As expected, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Monday proposed a $2.50 per month rate hike for customers of the city's Department of Water and Power as part of a “carbon surcharge” that would have the DWP buy solar power and retrofit L.A. businesses and homes with energy efficient electricity and appliances.

The proposal, which will be weighed by the Board of Water and Power Commissioners this week, aims to create 18,000 jobs and “reduce Los Angeles' dependence on fossil fuels,” according to a statement from the mayor's office.

As we told you previously, the proposal could be viewed as a move back to Prop. B, an unsuccessful ballot initiative to spend as much as $3.6 billion on solar energy (and, as some critics allege, to create jobs as a sweetheart gift for unions favored by Villaraigosa).

The money from the surcharge, meanwhile, would “allow the owner of an in-basin solar

facility to sell electricity directly to the LADWP that they will feed directly into the LADWP's electric grid,” according to the mayor's office “The LADWP will pay for the energy through a 20 year power-purchase agreement.”

In this economy? What a deal. We have to wonder, just who is this lucky “in-basin solar facility?”

“By investing in renewables and energy efficiency, we are building the foundation for an

emerging industry that will attract good paying, green collar jobs to Los Angeles,” the mayor stated.

*And, oh yeah, the mayor's office notes that Los Angeles Business Council supports the rate hike. The Business Council has not expressed support or opposition to the rate hikes, but has supported the idea of installing solar panels on homes and businesses that could feed excess power to the city's grid.

Because $2.50 a month from each and every one of you to feed an unknown “in-basin solar facility” and to train and hire workers to screw in florescent light bulbs is all gravy.

Keep in mind, however, that L.A. has one of the worst unemployment rates in the nation, and City Hall is facing nearly $700 million in red ink come summer. Potholes aren't being filled. Fewer cops are on the streets. Libraries are taking days off. So what we really need is to tax people's budgets more so the city's richest department, with many workers there receiving a deal for raises late last year, can spend more cash.

LA Weekly