/ Analysis / More Than 12,000 Acres Atop LA City Rooftops Provide Huge Opportunity For Solar Development

More Than 12,000 Acres Atop LA City Rooftops Provide Huge Opportunity For Solar Development

Matt Ball on May 9, 2012 - in Analysis, Energy, Projects

The City of Los Angeles has more than 12,000 acres of prime space for solar development on the rooftops of local homes, businesses and multi-family buildings, with capacity to create as much as five gigawatts of clean, locally generated power, according to the Los Angeles Business Council. This massive amount of solar-ready rooftop space is equivalent to nearly 20 square miles.

The recent approval by the LADWP to move forward with the city’s first Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) rooftop solar program – CLEAN LA Solar – provides the opportunity to create the first 150 megawatts of rooftop solar in the next three to four years, with a goal of reaching 600 megawatts by 2020. The program enables property owners to install rooftop solar and sell the power generated back to the LADWP.

How best to harvest power from the sun on the thousands of available rooftops right here at home is a focus of the LABC 2012 Sustainability Summit on Friday, April 27 at the Getty Center. City Councilman Eric Garcetti, who has been a key supporter of the CLEAN LA program, will serve as master of ceremonies for Friday’s event.

“This program will not only reduce our dependence on dirty fossil fuels, it will put LA at the center of the growing clean tech industry which means thousands of local jobs,” Garcetti said.

“The 12,000+ acres of available rooftop space available for solar could generate as much as 5.5 gigawatts of power in Los Angeles,” said Jacob Lipa, LABC Chairman. “While getting to a 600 megawatt FiT only takes advantage of a fraction of the total capacity in the city, it’s a great start to encourage investment in the city,” he said.

LABC President Mary Leslie put the value of the rooftop solar program into context:

“CLEAN LA Solar provides the opportunity to build the equivalent of hundreds, and potentially thousands, of local solar power plants in the heart of the city,” Leslie said. “With the enormous economic and environmental benefits a strong rooftop solar program can bring to the city, we should do everything possible to scale this program and be a national leader.”

An LABC-sponsored study by UCLA found that a 600-megawatt FiT could result in 18,000 green jobs, spur $2 billion in investment, and produce long-term cost savings for businesses, ratepayers and LADWP.

According to an extensive property study commissioned by LABC, many of the rooftops with the greatest solar power are found in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods of the city.

“We must be vigilant in making it sure the CLEAN LA Solar program is implemented quickly and in a way that lets the entire city participate in our emerging green economy,” said Bill Gallegos, Executive Director of Communities for a Better Environment. “Not only will a robust solar FiT create clean power, but it has the potential to create job-training and employment for local residents, and help subsidize utility costs for apartment dwellers in low-income neighborhoods,” he said.

All of these benefits aside, the City of Los Angeles must meet a state-mandate requiring local utilities to generate 33 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020. The solar FiT is a proven program to help the utility meet that goal and help LA quickly see the economic and environmental benefits in the limited time frame.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa set a vision for a solar FiT in 2008 and has worked with LABC and other stakeholders to bring that vision to life. “Los Angeles has an abundance of both sunshine and ingenuity. By using our resources wisely, Los Angeles will become a long-term national leader in solar energy,” Villaraigosa said. “It’s important to move forward with a smart, responsible Feed-In Tariff to build a strong foundation for a program that will create jobs, help drive our economy, and get us to our renewable energy goals.”

For more information, visit www.labusinesscouncil.org/sustainability .

Comments are disabled