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Officials: Arizona can't cut L.A. power

May 19, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is standing behind the Los Angeles City Council after a strongly worded letter from an Arizona utilities commissioner. The commissioner said if Los Angeles is serious about the boycott, the city should consider getting part of its electric supply elsewhere. Los Angeles is the largest of several cities in California voting to boycott Arizona because of its new immigration enforcement law. An Arizona commissioner took the controversy up a notch by suggesting that Los Angeles stop receiving power from its two Arizona-based plants. It's not going to happen. Arizona can't turn off the power on its own.

The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station is located west of Phoenix. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power owns 5 percent of the plant and 21 percent of a coal-fired plant on Navajo land to the north.

Up to 25 percent of Los Angeles electricity comes from those two Arizona-based plants.

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce offered to help renegotiate those contracts in light of the city of L.A.'s boycott of Arizona.

"You can't call a boycott on the candy store and then decide to go in and pick and choose candy you really do want," said Pierce. "You either boycott it, or you don't. And if you're not serious about that boycott, well then I think it's just politics."

Pierce strongly suggested that Arizona could turn off the power coming to Los Angeles. It cannot.

DWP Interim General Manager Austin Beutner says the utility supports the city's boycott, but interrupting Los Angeles electricity is not going to happen.

"Nothing in the city resolution is inconsistent with our continuing to receive power from those DWP-owned assets, and we intend to continue to do so," said Beutner.

The city boycott bans travel to Arizona by city employees and stipulates there should be no city contracts with businesses in the state.

Los Angeles City Councilman Ed Reyes was a co-author of the ordinance passed last week to boycott Arizona.

"Is he talking about our power or his power? I think there's a little bit of posturing there," said Reyes. "But to take those lengths to support such a discriminatory law just amazes me."

L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge used to work for the DWP as director of communications. As he points out, Arizona actually gets some of their own power from the DWP facilities. It is all part of a power grid.

"We own the power and we share that power, and we should continue to share the power. It's very important for Arizona, for Nevada, California and all the West to have these relationships with power companies," said LaBonge.