While Los Angeles officials have their city's interests as their top priority, that doesn't mean they're ready to exploit Utah.
So says S. David Freeman, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
Freeman told Salt Lake Rotary Club members Tuesday that a spirit of cooperation has existed between the city and Utah in the past, and it is expected to continue as each seeks ways to solve energy supply problems.
"Utah is not a sacrifice area for California," Freeman said.
The Intermountain Power Project near Delta supplies about one-third of Los Angeles' power needs. It has two generation units and room for two more. But Utahns, not Californians, will decide whether and where new generation units will be built, he said.
"That's a decision that will be made by the governor and people of Utah," said Freeman, who oversees the country's largest municipal utility and has served in several energy posts, including energy adviser to President Carter.
He described the IPP as a "pretty little secret" of cooperation, and it could be the springboard for more in the future. "There is no effort on the part of California to come here and cram anything down anybody's throat," Freeman said.
California has been criticized for not building power plants for many years, but Utah also went through a plant-building drought. Los Angeles has benefited by its involvement in IPP — once deemed "an albatross" because of then-high power rates — and by opting to avoid deregulation. "We're sittin' pretty right now," Freeman said.
He complimented the approach of Utah officials regarding electrical deregulation. "I think your governor and Legislature is very wise to kind of look at the California experience and say, 'Don't go there.' "
In the short term, California will cope with the energy crisis by conserving with "the most aggressive plan you'll ever see," he said. The goal is to lop off usage 10 percent this summer compared with last summer. "We're going to show the generators that we can do without their most expensive electricity," he said.
He joked that the state will "bring back romance" with candlelight dinners and other activities that require less lighting.
In the long term, Los Angeles and Utah need to look into solar, wind and other alternative energy sources, he said.
"You talk about your coal, but your coal is nothing compared to the solar power that falls onto this state," Freeman said.