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A New Call for More Solar in Los Angeles

Sullivan Solar Power

Solar power in Los Angeles is on the front burner for several environmental organizations and civic leaders who are urging the city to get 20 percent of its energy from rooftop solar systems by the year 2020.

The coalition made its announcement in late April at Los Angeles City Hall. The occasion also marked the release of "Solar in the Southland," a new report from the Environment California Research & Policy Center.

"Solar in the Southland" outlines the benefits of using rooftop solar as a clean, renewable energy resource. (Los Angeles would need another 1,200 megawatts of power produced by rooftop solar installations to reach that 20 percent goal.) Chief among those benefits would be the elimination of more than 1.1 million metric tons of "global warming pollution" in our environment, and 730,000-plus pounds of smog-forming emissions.

Officials in attendance at the announcement lauded the initiative and the impact it would have not just environmentally, but economically as well.

"Solar power is a no-brainer for Los Angeles," said Michelle Kinman, of the Environment California Research & Policy Center and author of the report. "With our abundant sunshine, our miles upon miles of rooftops, and our love of new technology, Los Angeles has all of the ingredients necessary to be the nation's solar power capital, bringing cleaner air and more local jobs to the area."

"The economics of rooftop solar are a win-win for Los Angeles, because as a robust market is achieved, local investment grows and energy spending stays in the region," said Craig Lewis, executive director of the Clean Coalition. "Additionally, solar power quickly becomes one of the cheapest sources of electricity available. When considering the tremendous potential of solar in Los Angeles, Angelenos should expect nothing less than world-class access to solar power."

Environment California says more than 30 businesses and organizations, as well as "thousands of citizens," support the 20 percent goal, as do Los Angeles mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel. Among the organizations in support of the goal are the Sierra Club and the Los Angeles Business Council.

The commitment to increase the use of rooftop solar power is in line with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's goal to make a major shift to clean energy during the next 15 years. The city department has a Feed-In-Tariff program where users can sell extra solar energy generated by their system back to the department. It has also entered into agreements to provide enough solar power that could be used by 200,000 homes. Kinman says the department's "leadership on solar power—and the broader clean energy transition—will be crucial not only for Los Angeles and California, but also for the nation."

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