(Originally posted on Forbes)
Los Angeles is known for its great year round weather – sunny and 73! Taking advantage of its ideal solar climate, LA will soon be known for being a real leader of the booming solar economy.
On Feb. 1, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power – made famous in the movie Chinatown but probably a bit more mundane of a bureaucracy these days – took its first big move into building out a 150-megawatt rooftop solar program.
These installations will be supported by a Feed-In Tariff – a policy that pays a premium rate for the electricity generated to create an incentive for people to build solar systems. FITs have been the driver of solar uptake from Europe to Australia and will work in L.A. In this case, it is targeted to multi-tenant dwellings, commercial buildings, and those large inner city rooftops that have not yet been going solar.
One of the facts that moved the City Council to support their municipal utility to CLEAN LA with distributed solar was the way this will serve those so far underserved by the solar industry. Aerial mapping and analysis shows that some of the best roofs to invest in to harness this feed-in tariff are on rooftops of inner city Angelenos. Bringing solar to these areas will not only help clean the air, but will also put local solar installers to work. To date, most of those trained in solar have been commuting out of L.A. to the suburbs and single-owner occupied buildings have been addressed a lot faster by the industry than blocks of apartments and rental homes.
oMary Leslie, the head of L.A.’s Business Council, is ecstatic about the new program. Having coffee with her on Monday she shared that the announcement by LADWP represents a big win for an unusual alliance of interests, and will create huge benefits for the city – lots of investment, lots of jobs and big carbon reductions.
LABC is a powerhouse in the commercial world of this city of angels and according to Mary they worked shoulder to shoulder with environmental justice activists, the Sierra Club, clean energy policy people, academics at UCLA and many others to get this done. “It is awesome to see – because we were a strong coalition we could create half a billion in value for L.A., with a little budget” she explained of the work that went into it.
The money flow into the city is what she’s most excited by – as much as $500m with $300m in tax credits being leveraged. Already one big company, Solar Provider Group—an international solar firm—has announced plans to open its US headquarters in L.A., hire 30 new employees and invest $50 million in L.A. by 2016. This is just the beginning of new investment and jobs in L.A. . Research shows that implementing all 150MW of power capacity with the FIT will create 4,500 local jobs.
And then there’s the 2 million metric tons of carbon pollution this will stop. Not bad L.A. Shine on!