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Solar Could Help L.A. While Adding Jobs

12/17/13

Not only would an increase in photovoltaic solar panels reduce carbon emissions in Los Angeles County, but it would add 29,000 jobs to the local economy.

That's according to a recent report from UCLA's Luskin Center for Innovation and the Environmental Defense Fund. The Los Angeles Solar and Efficiency Report (LASER) studied nine sections of the county and determined that if rooftop solar panels were added to 5 percent of available buildings in the county, it would reduce carbon emissions by 1.25 million tons, in addition to creating jobs.

The report's "solar atlas" maps, which can be used in planning renewable energy projects, also spotlighted three geographic areas where solar power could be best implemented and expanded, thanks to an abundance of both sunny days and rooftops ideal for solar panels: downtown and east Los Angeles, and the San Fernando Valley.

The maps also chart the impact climate change will have on the region, with a forecast that says days of extreme heat could triple or quadruple, depending on the geographic area. While renewable energy initiatives such as solar would mitigate some of the impact of climate change, the report also says it would benefit homeowners and businesspeople: Roughly 1.5 million buildings predate the county's energy-efficiency codes, which means there is vast potential for reduced expenses that come with clean energy upgrades.

"Together, EDF and the Luskin Center have created a powerful resource that can help the LA region unlock a cleaner energy future," said Colleen Callahan, deputy director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, in a statement. "Combined with California's innovative climate policies, the 'LASER' Atlas can impact how the region invests new state resources to address pressing environmental challenges while providing job opportunities in its most impacted communities."

Added Jorge Madrid, coordinator of partnerships and alliances with the Environmental Defense Fund, "This study sends a clear message to Angelenos-the potential to invest in L.A.'s clean, renewable energy economy and build healthier communities is huge. We hope these maps become an effective tool for local elected officials and community advocates as they look to seize those opportunities."

- Michael Chagala

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