Power Play Over Immigration Law

The LADWP general manager issues a statement and an invitation

By Jonathan Lloyd and Robert Kovacik
|  Friday, May 28, 2010  |  Updated 11:25 AM PDT
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LA's boycott resolution sparks a threat over power the city receives from Arizona

LA's boycott resolution sparks a threat over power the city receives from Arizona

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Can Arizona Pull the Plug?

LA Councilman Tom LaBonge points out a few things about an Arizona official's threat to cut power to LA.
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An Arizona utility commissioner said he's willing to pull the plug on Los Angeles if the city goes through with a boycott of his state.

In a letter to the city of LA, a member of Arizona's power commission said he would ask Arizona utility companies to cut off the power supply to Los Angeles. LA gets about 25 percent of its power from Arizona.

"That is one commissioner who has that idea -- whether he can do that or not is another idea," said LA Councilman Dennis Zine. "They are the ones who have to make the move, not us."

The commissioner's power grid play is in response to the city's approval of a resolution directing city staff to consider which contracts with Arizona can be terminated.

Here's part of Arizona Corporation Commission member Gary Pierce's letter to the mayor:

If an economic boycott is truly what you desire, I will be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements so Los Angeles no longer receives any power from Arizona-based generation.

I am confident that Arizona’s utilities would be happy to take those electrons off your hands. If, however, you find that the City Council lacks the strength of its convictions to turn off the lights in Los Angeles and boycott Arizona power, please reconsider the wisdom of attempting to harm Arizona’s economy.

The full text was sent to the blog Hot Air.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is in Washington D.C., meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, but his deputy chief of staff issued the following statement: "The mayor stands strongly behind the city council and he will not respond to threats from the state that has isolated itself from an America that values freedom, liberty and basic civil rights."

Councilmember Tom LaBonge said he'd like to talk with Pierce. LaBonge said the city needs to look into its long standing utility agreements with Arizona.

LaBonge met Wednesday morning with LA Department of Water and Power officials.

"We have right of ownership of the power plants," LaBonge told NBCLA. "We partially own them."

Other California cities, including Oakland and San Francisco, have passed similar measures.

On Tuesday, Berkeley became the latest California city to boycott Arizona. The City Council voted unanimously to restrict staff from traveling to the state on city business.

SB 1070 -- here's the text of the law -- empowers local law enforcement to check the immigration status  of suspects they have stopped for other reasons if there is a reasonable  suspicion they are in the country illegally. The law specifically bars police  from racial profiling.

The Arizona Republic newspaper recently asked a panel of experts to outline how the law would work in real-world situations. The experts' interpretations varied when it came to what happens at the point a law encforcement officer can or should ask about a person's status.

LADWP Backs City Council

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power general manager Austin Beutner released this statement Wednesday evening:

"I want to make clear that we support the city position regarding the recent law enacted in Arizona and the resolution adopted by the Los Angeles City Council.

"On any given day, we receive 20 to 25 percent of our power from two power plants located in Arizona: Navajo, a coal-fired plant, and Palo Verde, a nuclear plant.

"We are part owner of both power plants, which are generating assets of the department. As such, nothing in the city's resolution is inconsistent with our continuing to receive power from those department-owned assets.

"I might add that, as the city's Job Czar, I certainly would welcome any conventions or meetings that were going to be held in Arizona to come to Los Angeles. We have fantastic facilities and incomparable weather and we'd welcome them to the City of Angels."
 

Care about the future of California's cash, kids and jobs? Read Prop Zero, our state politics blog, and join the conversation @PropZero on Twitter.

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