When Vice Mayor Gordon voted against approving the 2013-14 budget, his stated reason was that Burbank Water and Power is incurring millions of dollars in renewable energy costs that are causing rates to increase unnecessarily because of a state mandate for a sustainability premise not supported by him or several of his constituents.
Climate change policies to limit the greenhouse gas effect of carbon emissions are state law and utilities are required to reduce the energy they receive from coal generated sources and replace it with solar, wind, hydro and other renewables. When California voters were asked to suspend this legislation in 2010 they voted to keep it in place. The law mandating a renewable standard and reducing the amount of harmful emissions also has the benefit of promoting cleaner air. Long term gains for the atmosphere and for public health are essential, while the costs to transform the power industry in the short term are substantial. BWP must reduce its percentage reliance on energy from a coal burning Utah plant where it has an investment by contracting for significantly higher priced renewable energy and yet manage the inevitable impact on electric rates.
Ignoring the law and the voices of California voters on renewable energy policy is clearly not a path supported by City Council. Council majorities have historically and consistently provided direction to BWP to invest in renewable energy and to strengthen water conservation and energy saving programs. Again, Gordon chose not to join his colleagues in approving the budget that provides funding for city services, presumably to go on record as publicly opposing the renewables mandate. His contrarian position disregards the reality of a state law that City Council is obligated to follow in favor of tilting at windmills — and not the kind that produce renewable energy.
The writer is a member of the Burbank Water and Power Board of Directors.