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John Doyle is a candidate for Pasadena City Council, District 4. He is a commercial solar energy professional.
Q– Let’s talk about the Pasadena public utilities issues first.
A– Pasadena Water and Power was founded to provide lower costs and reliable energy to this area outside of LA. That was a great mission. But, over time, PWP made some investments that might not have been good for Pasadena. Pasadena has lagged behind California in terms of its Renewable Portfolio Standard and achieving those goals when it should have been at the forefront.
Pasadena has made investments in natural gas and coal. That means that it’s using fossil fuels and polluting. There is a new generation and new thinking about that. We have coal contracts that are going to end in 2027, and what do we do to replace those? There isn’t a solid plan. We’ve retrofitted the Grayson Power Plant for backup energy when we need peak load. But to serve our normal load, the utility needs to make an honest step toward renewables, and that would be carbon-free energy with solar with battery storage.
It’s like weight loss, right? There’s just been this procrastination for Pasadena to use reliability and low cost as a reason that fossil fuels are the solution. That kind of thinking needs to be eradicated.
“That kind of thinking needs to be eradicated.”John Doyle
I think local pressure isn’t really working. As a City Council candidate, I’m running to work on it from the inside and not be someone that you have to convince that this is needed. We need to purchase renewable energy from residential and commercial sources and upgrade our substation so there’s not the “hourglass effect” where not enough energy can get in when we need it. We have to upgrade our substations, wires, and distribution lines. That’s going to take some capital.
Whether that’s a public utilities commission or some kind of oversight, the community must push Pasadena to do what other communities have been able to do – to become 100% carbon-free cities. Through procurement or trading in the markets, other cities have been able to get 98% of their load served with carbon-free energy.
Q– Do you have a timeline for a plan?
A– It’s a matter of pushing the city manager and the PWP to procure renewable contracts and put together some incentives to drive renewable energy in Pasadena. If everyone in Pasadena had solar on their roofs, then there would not be a PWP. So, the PWP has to allow for this attrition as more people have renewable energy on their rooftops.
It’s time to think big. I would have the city provide a battery to every resident. This battery would soak up renewable energy during the day and use its energy at night. The thinking here is that a municipality provides the vehicle for clean energy and clean air. That’s going to drive local jobs and provide incentives for people to have solar on the rooftops.
“We pay more for clean energy than for fossil fuel energy. That should be flip-flopped.”John Doyle
We pay more for clean energy than for fossil fuel energy. That should be flip-flopped.
Currently, in the market, renewable energy is priced lower than fossil fuel energy. The reason Pasadena doesn’t provide it is because we have contracts. We’re buying at a low price and selling it back to the consumer at a higher price. That kind of thinking has to be stopped. It’s antiquated. It’s not going to get us to our goals.
PWP should upgrade its substation and distribution lines so that those batteries could soak up the excess solar on the California grid. We could trade that on the market and sell it back to California or the grid at a higher price.
Q– Do you think the PUC should be reinstated?
A– We have a better chance to make change from the inside. I would still have to get votes and influence to do this, but I could do it. I would make decisions and vote where I know that clean energy is not an insurmountable cost.
“I get frustrated with local news when they take a press release from the police – an armed labor union is what I call them – and just run with it without doing any research.”John Doyle
Q– Our Local News Pasadena mission is to save local news. Do you have some comments about the importance of local news and how to get people engaged?
A– Local news is super important, but it’s a double-edged sword. I love that local news tells people what’s going on, how they can get together, activities for kids, local sports athletes, art, and local culture.
I get frustrated with local news when they take a press release from the police – an armed labor union is what I call them – and just run with it without doing any research.
Sometimes, local news is used as an outlet for messages that either the city or the police department wants to get out. That’s where I have a cringe-worthy moment. When I see something that doesn’t make sense, it seems like it’s more fear-driven or click-driven versus we’re in this community together.
Q– But when you have local news that gets eaten up by conglomerates, and they lay off all the reporters, there’s nobody there to report. How many local news entities have asked you for an interview?
A– Well, two and you are one of them. I am a fan of local news. I prefer it because I want to know what’s going on in my community, but the local economy needs to support local news.
The health of the middle class is the health of local news.
The middle class, the people who eat at restaurants and go to theaters; that’s what is important, that transactional exchange.
Q– How would you summarize your campaign issues?
A– We talked about clean energy, and that’s number one. Number two is making sure that we’re adding jobs in Pasadena. Number three would be looking at places where we can add affordable housing, which really is not popular. There should be more apartment buildings that are affordable.
There are some new places downtown that are just super unaffordable. They’re just a lot of marble.
If it has too much marble design, I don’t see it as something regular folks can afford. Younger people can’t afford them.
“There are some new places downtown that are just super unaffordable. They’re just a lot of marble.”John Doyle
We need more jobs to support the local economy. I’m looking to keep Pasadena humming, thriving, and vibrant, to bring it into the 21st century and let it take advantage of clean technology, grow its middle class, and increase its social safety net. We need to ensure that the social safety net works for working people and that they don’t become unhoused. I have ideas to help them in parallel.
Q– Do you have any further thoughts about how to improve the police department?
A– I want to focus on an unarmed first-responder force that has mental health training. I want to take away the focus on money-making searches, seizures, ticketing, etc, that build revenue. Those are mosquito bites on working-class people. They cause more social harm than they do social good.
“Those are mosquito bites on working-class people.”John Doyle
An unarmed division that benchmarks itself and gets positive social outcomes and less domestic violence is needed. We need more community policing, jobs and housing, and less ticketing. I don’t think it makes sense to write twenty $600 tickets for people making a left turn on their way to work just because the police department wants to buy a new motorcycle. I don’t see the point in that.
There needs to be a recalibration or refocus on what we’re trying to accomplish. If policing is the largest part of our budget, it has to be helping the community and helping Pasadena be a better place to live as opposed to looking to punish people.