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L.A. Business Council, UCLA Study Says Solar Power Doesn't Need to be So Costly

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Photo by twicepix via Flickr
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After the recent debates over renewable energy put Los Angeles into a position close to bankruptcy, a study released today says Los Angeles could garner 500 megawatts, or 3% of its energy needs, for $23 million a year with solar panels within Los Angeles. The plan would take 10 years. According to the report (.pdf), which was published by the Los Angeles Business Council and the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's recent plan only proposed 150 megawatts of local solar power.

"This report shows that neither LADWP’s proposed feed-in tariff nor Southern California Edison’s existing feed-in tariff will effectively contribute to these ambitious renewable energy goals," described the report's executive summary. "The purpose of this report is to provide guidance on how to design an effective feed-in tariff that is tailored to the needs of Greater Los Angeles."

The report recommends a policy "that requires a utility to buy solar power that residents, businesses and public organizations produce by installing solar on their roof-tops, parking lots and vacant land," based on similar successful programs in other areas like Sacramento, Vermont, Germany and Spain. If enacted, local high-wage jobs would be created--11,000, the report says--uses unused solar power generated locally and reduces costs on transmitting power from afar.

“Regardless of the outcome of ongoing negotiations between the City Council, the Mayor and the DWP Commission to create a new source of funding to green the LADWP, future resources for renewable programs will be limited," said LABC President Mary Leslie in a statement. "To make any meaningful impact, policymakers will have to identify renewable programs that deliver immediate results and produce the greatest benefits for their cost. The findings in our study validate an ambitious Feed-in Tariff as one of the smartest investments Los Angeles can make to create a cost-effective, locally generated source of solar energy and grow our green economy.”

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According to LAist's calculations, split evenly among the 1.4 million LADWP electric customers, a program costing $23 million annually would cost ratepayers $1.37 a month.