A few eggs are going to be cracked to create this omelet.
- Councilman Steve Napolitano in defense of the suddenly more expensive conversion of city facilities to green energy.
In a remarkable Manhattan Beach City Council meeting last Tuesday, we saw continued community complaints in the on-going saga of the 900 Club and a groundswell of objections to the now nationally famous El Porto 'emoji house.' (We have our own take on the emoji house and what makes good neighbors but we'll get into that at a later date).
Almost lost in the hullabaloo was a powerful performance by Councilperson Suzanne Hadley who singlehandedly manned the city's fiscal bulwarks by questioning the city’s representative from the Clean Power Alliance (CPA) and her fellow council members on the financial impact of Council’s decision last May 21 to suddenly shift all municipal power accounts to the much more expensive 100% green energy tier and then, just as suddenly, to have Mayor Hersman (a passionate supporter of our city's green new deal) and the City Manager quietly remove a number of those accounts from CPA entirely and return them to Edison (effectively 0% green energy).
As you’ll recall (see Green Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry), the Council voted 4-1 in May (with Suzanne casting the lone ‘no’ vote) to make the switch to 100% green even though this would require the city to pay an annual increase in cost for the same amount of energy, which increase was budgeted at $100,000 per year.
Mind you, that’s an annual cost to the city that is being incurred solely in order to exceed the state-mandated timeline for converting to 100% green energy by the year 2045.
This is interesting since California is the most liberal state in the country in terms of setting an aggressive deadline requiring all energy usage to come from totally renewable sources.
Yet this state-imposed year 2045 deadline was not sufficient for the environmental warriors on Manhattan Beach’s City Council who decided that our state legislators were not fully appreciative of the gravity of global climate change and that we, as a City, had to make the switch to 100% green energy immediately.
Take that, you flat-earth climate change deniers in Sacramento!
Ms Hadley started by analogizing Council and City staff to explorers in pith helmets (on 'The Road to Zanzibar'?) blazing a trail through the jungle of energy rates and tiers being led by their trusty jungle guide, Ted, from CPA.
As Suzanne put it, she felt that the City was “ill-served” by the CPA and that Ted (and CPA) should have done a better job of guiding Council on the potential for immediate rate increases far more drastic than was budgeted for by the city.
Then she got into the inner workings of how some of the city's electric power accounts were suddenly removed from CPA and its tiers entirely. Just to recap, the motion approved by Council in May was to convert the city accounts to CPA's 100% renewable energy tier with no preconditions in terms of cost.
You can view Ms Hadley's line of questioning in the Council meeting video starting at the 2 hr, 9½ minute mark.
In May, Mayor Hersman, while obviously channeling her inner AOC at the time, said “This couldn't be more important; all the rest of this stuff pales in comparison to what we can do with going 100% on this. I just can’t see not doing it just because it costs money.”
In our view, that’s an incredibly financially-irresponsible statement to make and is reflective of the sort of climate hysteria that we see prevalent amongst the more radical members of our state and national governments, not something we'd expect to hear in fiscally-conservative and supposedly more rational Manhattan Beach.
Going back to last Tuesday, Steve Napolitano then jumped in to tell everyone "We knew this wasn't going to be easy. We said this was a huge decision for the city. It will lead us in the right direction [Really? Is that direction wasting city revenue dollars to allow some on council to bask in the feel-good glow of being able to virtue-signal on climate change?] but a few eggs are going to be cracked to create this omelet and we're still cracking them, unfortunately."
Now that's an encouraging analogy, Steve.
But the biggest about-face last Tuesday came from Mayor Hersman who was suddenly no longer preaching 100% green energy at any cost. Suddenly, she was saying she wasn't going to let some of the city's accounts incur 40-50% rate increases (that's the magnitude of some of the increases for the street lighting accounts and such under CPA's program) on her watch.
As a result, she and the City Manager quietly and unilaterally pulled a number of the city's power accounts out of the 100% tier (and, indeed, out of CPA entirely) contrary to Council's previous vote and without authorization from City Council.
While we applaud this sudden outbreak of fiscal sanity from the Mayor, one has to wonder why the sudden reversal in tone, from "green at any cost" to "ooops, I didn't really mean at any cost."
We suspect that the Mayor and the others in the Council majority realized, after the sudden dramatic rate increases, that they looked foolish by putting their emotional zeal for green energy "at any cost" - to "save the planet", as Hersman said back in May - ahead of a prudent investigation of the likelihood of significant rate hikes.
To do nothing would have compounded the already large $100,000/year cost of using CPA's top 100% green energy tier with some fairly significant budget-busting rate hikes to boot; hence, the clandestine reversion of about 20% of the city's power accounts back to Edison.
But isn't this the law of unintended consequences when you're dealing with unreliable green energy that is still, relatively-speaking, in the development stage?
And might there be a better use for that $100,000+ that the city will be spending each year to meet the exact same energy demands that it was previously meeting under the cheaper 50% energy tier?
We'd be happy to offer Council some suggestions.
But in the meantime, kudos to Suzanne Hadley for being a (lone?) voice of fiscal responsibility downtown.
You go, girl!