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Solar Could Be Hot Issue in L.A. Elections

Sullivan Solar Power

This is a big election year for the city of Los Angeles. Voters will select a new mayor and fill seven open seats on the City Council during the course of election season, which begins with primaries in March and the general election in May. Many key issues will be debated during the next few months, and prominent among them will be renewable energy, including solar power.

In December 2012, a team of environmental experts from UCLA released an ambitious plan that detailed initiatives lawmakers could implement to increase the city's environmental sustainability. Upon the report's release, the researchers urged all council and mayoral candidates to incorporate it in their campaign platforms.

The ideas in "Vision 2021 LA: A Model Sustainability Agenda for Los Angeles' Next Mayor and City Council" are meant to be accomplished in the short range, over the course of two four-year terms. Drawn up by representatives from UCLA's Evan Frankel Environmental Law and Policy Program, the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, and the Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment at the university's law school, the report offers 24 goals in 11 target areas. Among them:

  • Setting a goal of 40 percent renewable energy for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power;
  • Adding 4 million square feet of solar roofs;
  • Cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below the city's levels in 1990;
  • Making 85 percent of the city's vehicles zero-emission or running on alternative fuel.

Two of the leading candidates for Los Angeles mayor have already pledged their support for solar programs. Eric Garcetti has said he would put 1.2 gigawatts of rooftop solar power into place as mayor, expanding the city's Feed-in Tariff program. He says it would not only eliminate the Department of Water and Power's use of coal and nuclear power, but would create thousands of jobs. One of his opponents, Wendy Greuel, said in a candidates' forum that Los Angeles "should be the solar capital of the world."

Also plugging solar is the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, which wants the city to increase spending on renewable energy, including wind and geothermal power as well as solar.

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