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Gatto touts road-energy bill

February 11, 2011

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) may have found a new energy source for California — the pavement beneath your car tires.

Last week, Gatto introduced Assembly Bill 306, a proposal to launch tests of “piezoelectric” generation of energy. Essentially, sensors would be placed in roadbeds trembling under the weight of vehicles, harnessing that energy and using it to run nearby streetlights and residences.

Gatto said Israel is using the sensors, and Italy plans to test them on part of the nation’s autostrada, or superhighway. He estimates that energy from one lane on a kilometer-long stretch of busy roadway could generate energy to power 30,000 homes for a year.

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Multiply that by three, he said, “and that’s the entire city of Burbank.”

The bill calls for the California Department of Transportation to use existing funds to run two pilot projects, one in Southern California and one in Northern California.

“Even in the test areas it would be extremely productive for our grid,” Gatto said.

He heard about the energy source from a friend in Israel, and has since talked to companies developing the technology, he added. In a best-case scenario, Gatto said, Caltrans may be able to sell the power and use the revenue for road repairs or a bigger investment in the technology.

Antonovich skeptical about governor’s plans

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, the Republican who represents Glendale, Burbank and nearby areas, told members of the state Assembly Budget Committee who came to Los Angeles on Feb. 4 that they need to get more serious about budget reform.

Like other county officials at the special legislative session, Antonovich expressed skepticism that Gov. Jerry Brown’s planned realignment of government services and the proposed June ballot initiative to extend sales, income and vehicle tax hikes will work without deeper reforms.

Antonovich said the state has more than 19,000 employees making $100,000 or more, 5,000 earning $200,000 or more and 1,000 making $300,000 or more.

The governor’s proposed realignment, he said, is like a “magician’s sleight of hand” that will overburden local law enforcement and other agencies.

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