EcoCampus

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), right, tours the Burbank Water & Power EcoCampus, with Burbank Councilman Jess Talamantes, left, in March. A state renewable energy law is expected to cost Burbank $17.8 million this fiscal year. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / March 30, 2012)

A state law that requires 20% of the city's average energy sales to come from renewable energy is projected to cost the city $17.8 million this fiscal year, officials reported on Tuesday.

The financial burden of complying with the state mandate — which ups the ante every few years — outraged Councilman David Gordon, particularly because Burbank was generating enough energy before the state bill was passed to meet its power needs.

“Any renewables we bring in basically results in a situation where we back off our own generation in order to bring renewables in,” said Power Resources Manager Bruno Jeider.

The 20% average must be met for power output between 2011 and 2013.

This fiscal year, the city will pay $85 a megawatt for 303,579 megawatts of renewable energy, nearly three times as much as the $30 a megawatt it pays for its other energy resources, officials said.

“For one year, for resources we don't need, the citizens, the taxpayers, are being asked to pay $17.8 million and some change,” Gordon said Tuesday.

“Something is wrong with this picture.”

The consequences of non-compliance are uncertain since the law — which kicked in last year — is so new, but according to city officials, they could cost the city millions.

“I'd be really concerned about us taking that position,” said City Atty. Amy Albano.

Councilman Jess Talamantes agreed.

“I'm all for the fight … but let's be smart about it,” he said. “This is a state law.”

But Gordon said he didn't think penalties were well-defined or severe enough for the council to rubber stamp the plan.

“This is wrong,” he said. “In better economic times … fine, you can do all this green stuff.”

Mayor Dave Golonski encouraged Gordon to visit Sacramento to share his views with state legislators before the council voted 4-1 to approve the updated compliance plan. Gordon was the lone dissenter.

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