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On Your March 3rd Ballot: Measure B, The Solar Energy and Job Creation Program

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Photo: Jeremy Levine Design
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When we go vote on March 3rd, the most contested and fought-over choice we make will be whether to vote yes or no on Measure B (Yes | No). So much has happened with Measure B in the last few months, and this week, both the LA Times and Daily News urged voters to say NO. So What is it?
Measure B is the The Solar Energy and Job Creation Program which will have union Department of Water & Power employees install near 2.5 square miles worth of solar panels on public and private roofs across the city and region. The endgame? It calls for 400 megawatts by 2014.

I don't really know how power is measured, 400 megawatts means nothing to me.

To gain a little perspective on what that many megawatts means, let's look at the average usage on a daily basis. Los Angeles uses 5,100 megawatts on a typical summer day and 3,200 on a typical winter day, according to the LA Department of Water & Power (LADWP). One megawatt can power about 650 average single family homes. But one megawatt from solar "would be much less—about 250—due to lower capacity factor," a LADWP spokesperson told us, adding that the capacity of solar could be higher with more efficient solar technology.

If Measure B passes and is successful, then 1.6% in the summer and 2.5% in the winter of the city's energy will be solar powered by 2014.

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Currently, Los Angeles gets 13 megawatts from solar power on a daily basis. Other renewable energy sources give Los Angeles 160 megawatts a day. And by 2010, 20% of our power should be from renewables without Measure B.

Building a larger solar energy portfolio is a good thing. So why are people up in arms about it?