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New L.A. Mayor Has Hot Prospects for Solar

12/19/13

Los Angeles has elected a new mayor, and he's gone on record stating his support for solar power.

Eric Garcetti beat out Wendy Greuel to take over the city's top spot from Antonio Villaraigosa in the May elections. He will be sworn in July 1.

Garcetti, who was a city councilman before winning the mayor's job, advocated for increasing the use of solar power in Los Angeles throughout his campaign. Back in January, he said he would like to build on the city's rooftop solar pilot program, which he played an instrumental role in bringing to Los Angeles, by creating two solar programs that would total 1,200 megawatts.

The first program he proposed was a 600-megawatt program that would expand on the city's Feed-in Tariff (FIT) solar rooftop program, in which solar energy producers could sell their excess power to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Garcetti estimated that the expanded program would create 20,000 jobs in the city. The other 600-megawatt program would focus on solar installations at city government buildings. It would also make the solar permitting process easier and put more solar at schools through Proposition 39, among other items. 

"If they can do 1,200 megawatts in Ontario, Canada, we can do it here in L.A.," Garcetti has said. "This will create thousands of jobs and help reach my goal of making the L.A. Department of Water and Power coal and nuclear free." 

Garcetti has long been a proponent of environmentally friendly initiatives, and puts into practice what he preaches. A Dwell Magazine profile noted that he drives an electric car and that his home boasts solar panels, recyclable building materials, and other energy-efficient features.

His election earned kudos from Environment California, a statewide environmental advocacy group. "We look forward to working with him to turn Los Angeles into the solar power capitol of the country, providing cleaner air, creating jobs, and saving consumers significant dollars right here in L.A.," said the organization's Michelle Kinman.

"As anyone who has flown into LAX knows, Los Angeles has a lot of rooftop space. During the day, Southern California's famous sunshine bathes those rooftops in virtually endless amounts of pollution-free energy. Given Los Angeles' solar potential, public health officials, businesses, teachers, environmental organizations and Mayor-elect Garcetti have called for Los Angeles to make a bold commitment to solar power: to meet 20 percent of our energy needs with rooftop solar by 2020. Such a goal would make Los Angeles a solar power leader unmatched anywhere in the country."

- Michael Chagala

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