Sawant’s opposition to Larry Weis

While she hasn’t explicitly said it yet, it’s now clear that Kshama Sawant opposes the appointment of Larry Weis as the new CEO of Seattle City Light.

I’m guessing that as chair of the Energy and Environment Committee, Sawant is trying to show her commitment to a fair and open hearing. But between her critique of him at this morning’s Council Briefing (where she selectively quoted him to make him sound like an opponent of solar power) and then posting this message this afternoon — conveniently letting another group voice the criticisms for her — her feelings on Weis have become fairly transparent.

In fairness to Weis, I wouldn’t want to be the guy promoting solar and wind power in the state capital of “Big Oil” Texas. And yet he did — just not at the level environmental activists wanted him to. And in the first part of his confirmation hearing, he gave a fairly plausible answer to why he advocated for a huge, 500 megawatt natural-gas generation plant: because it enabled him to also invest in green energy without causing a significant increase in electricity prices since solar and wind power generation cost more than hydrocarbon-based generation (and it was in 2011, when most people still thought that natural gas was a useful stepping stone between oil/coal and green energy — before we knew about how much methane was leaking out of the infrastructure).

The truth is that just as there was enormous political pressure to favor certain energy sources in Austin, there are just as strong political pressures here in Seattle; they just favor different ones.

Sawant also dissed him for negotiating a $375,000 annual salary, which is still below the median for public utility CEO’s and well below the median for private utility CEO’s.

Council members Juarez and Gonzalez were also present for the first hearing and asked tough questions, though neither showed their cards as to whether they support his confirmation.

Weis is not the most well-spoken person, and didn’t do himself a lot of favors in the confirmation hearing so far. But before you judge him, you should watch the first hearing. And part 2 is tomorrow (Wednesday) evening at 6pm; Sawant is urging the rest of the Council members to attend and participate.

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