What Would It Take to Bring Los Angeles Solar Into the Mainstream?

los angeles solarLos Angeles can solarize without sacrificing its balance sheet. Also, its jobs market could catch on fire.

That’s the crystal ball, if you’re UCLA’s Luskin Center and USC’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity’s collaborative report Los Angeles Solar: Now and Into the Future. It was commissioned by the Los Angeles Business Council Institute, who wants the City of Angels to juice up “solar equity hotspots” in Downtown L.A., Hollywood, the San Fernando Valley and the port by 1,500 megawatts annually.

Doing so would render meaningless the 42 percent of L.A.’s energy portfolio that leans on coal-fired power, the report explained. Reroute that investment toward improved feed-in-tariffs (FiT), community jobs initiatives and net metering, and the metropolis could explode in value.

“Los Angeles has a unique confluence of characteristics providing a firm foundation for a successful solar FiT program: abundant sunshine, a trained workforce and tremendous economic need,” explained USC PERE director Dr. Manuel Pastor in LABCI release for Los Angeles Solar. “Growing the FiT will bring economic opportunity to some of our city’s most underserved and   neighborhoods.”

SoCal’s rival universities crunched the numbers and agree that $500 million in economic activity could be generated if Los Angeles rebalanced its energy supply. The political and economic stars seem to be aligning for it, right on time.

“Los Angeles is blessed with abundant sunshine and with the most solar power in the country we are proud to be putting it to good use,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in Environment America’s new report Shining Cities, which claimed L.A. as the national champion of total installed solar capacity, with 170 megawatts. (That soothed the burn of the C+ Los Angeles got from UCLA’s Institute of Environment and Sustainability.) “We look forward to increasing that amount significantly in the coming years through the nation’s largest Feed-in-Tariff program and broadening adoption by residential customers, simultaneously creating green jobs and combating climate change,” Garcetti said.

That process is finally accelerating, as Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) project wait times decrease from an average of 425 to 182 days. Inevitable improvements in financing, permitting and interconnection are also arriving, but UCLA and USC think that LADWP could pick up the pace. The Los Angeles Business Council is calling for LADWP to staff up “in order to fulfill the promise of the FiT program and meet the high priority placed on the program by Mayor Garcetti,” its report said, and launched a website with 7,000 properties it added are “ripe for rooftop solar development.”

“Adequate staffing at LADWP is the missing piece of the puzzle, and it needs to be put in place if Los Angeles is going to go reach its solar potential.” explained Luskin Center co-researcher J.R. De Shazo.

Author: Scott Thill

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Posted in: Solar Energy, Solar Policy

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