By Daniel Heimpel

At a special meeting this morning of the Los Angeles City Council's Energy and Environment Committee, the topic was the council's March 3 ballot measure that, purportedly, will drape 1,500 acres of silicon solar panels on rooftops in L.A.

On the defensive after taking a media hammering, council members pointed to the Huron Report, which claims that solar Measure B will not cost Angelenos $3 billion or more, as an earlier report indicated, but closer to $1 billion.

Councilman Richard Alarcon — who breezed in late and left early — said that as an elected official, “you want to make decisions that are fully informed. But sometimes you have to just go with what feels right.”

Councilman Tony Cardenas asked the only serious question about what will be the biggest solar program in the country if passed by voters: “Give me one renewables project that is on time and on budget,” Cardenas asked of the assembled DWP officials. “And don't give me 'hydroelectric.' That is old school.”

The DWP representatives looked at each other like baffled SEC execs in a Congressional hearing. They said they couldn't think of a single one, and would get back to Cardenas.

Many political observers think the tiny voter turnout expected March

3 all but assures approval of the plan, whose fine print is freighted with controversial provisions that most Los Angeles  voters have never read.

The 15-member City Council and Council President Eric Garcetti are on the defensive, and have gotten

slammed in the media, for rushing the solar idea onto the ballot when the council did not know,

itself, what the plan entails.

Jack Humphreville, an

outspoken neighborhood activist and DWP watchdog, is less than impressed with the DWP's unfamiliarity with other renewable projects, how they fared, and how the DWP is going to avoid similar pitfalls, calling Measure B “a recipe for massive cost


So now the

DWP is scrambling to answer Cardenas' question: name the renewables projects run by government that have stayed on budget and on time.

It could make quite a difference if this huge plan goes over budget. One key backer, Garcetti, calls the Measure B the DWP's largest project “in half a


LA Weekly