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Los Angelenos Leading the Way for Solar

Sullivan Solar Power

What does a Hindu temple, a Hollywood studio, and an average homeowner have in common? They all are using solar power as a source of clean, renewable energy in Los Angeles County.

The Environment California Research and Policy Center just released a new report titled "Solar in the Spotlight: Stories of Angelenos Investing in a Clean Energy Future." In the paper, the nonprofit center dedicated to protecting the state's natural resources presents 23 case studies of commercial and residential solar power users throughout Los Angeles County.

While the report highlights these solar programs and the ways solar power can be financially and environmentally beneficial, it also urges Los Angeles to increase its reliance on solar power.

"Right now, the city of Los Angeles gets less than 2 percent of its power from the sun," the report states. "Installing 1,200 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity in L.A. would allow the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to meet 20 percent of peak summertime demand with solar power. That would be enough to eliminate 730,000 pounds of smog-forming pollution and 1.1 million tons of global warming pollution each year-and create an estimated 32,000 local jobs."

The report also urges Los Angeles leaders to capitalize on ground-breaking solar programs in the city, such as the Feed-in Tariff program, where owners of private solar power systems can sell the energy produced via solar to the department of water and power for a fixed price. The city's utility department also aims to get 280 MW of solar energy from rooftop panels by 2016 via its Solar Incentive Program, an offshoot of the Million Solar Roofs Initiative, a state law that created the California Solar Initiative in 2006.

To help support its case for rooftop solar systems, Environment California's report highlights programs already in place and operating successfully. Among them:

*Metropolitan Community Church. The San Fernando Valley congregation not only supports the use of solar power at the church-its 90-panel system has reduced electric bills from an average of about $350 per month to about $70-it also hosts Solar Nights to spread the gospel of renewable energy.

*Hollywood Center Studios. The site of iconic TV shows and movies such as "I Love Lucy," "The Beverly Hillbillies," and "The Karate Kid" has a 225-kilowatt solar system installed on the roofs of the soundstages.

*Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The West Hollywood hospital's new Advanced Health Science Pavilion is LEED Gold certified, which includes a 250-kilowatt solar carport system on the top of its parking structure.

*Lakeview Terrace Branch Library. The building features many environmentally friendly enhancements, ranging from low-flow faucets to landscaping that catches storm water. Its rooftop solar system provides the library with 14 percent of its power needs, helped the building earn LEED Platinum certification, and served as a model for other county libraries that have since installed their own solar power systems.

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