On April 12, Los Angeles City Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed into law a solar feed-in tariff program, which received unanimous votes by the City Council the previous week. The signing sets up a 10MW demonstration program that will enable Los Angeles residents to add solar energy to rooftop spaces on multifamily residences, schools, warehouses, parking lots, and retail spaces. "Angelenos can celebrate that the city has made an exciting commitment to solar power," said Michelle Kinman, Environment California's clean energy advocate. "If city leaders continue to embrace visionary solar policies, the sky's the limit when it comes to LA's solar potential."
Los Angeles is the second ranked city in the state, behind San Diego, both in terms of the number of solar installations on residential, commercial, and government buildings and the total amount of solar electricity generated. According to Environment California Research & Policy Center's report "California Solar Cities 2012," Los Angeles had installed just over 4,000 solar projects and 36MW of solar capacity as of August 2011. "Given all the city's sunshine and rooftop spaces, Los Angeles should be leading not only the state, but the nation towards a clean energy future," said Kinman.
The feed-in tariff program can drive a market for medium-sized solar projects installed on spaces where there is little on-site electricity demand and ample space to install solar panels. Through this program, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will purchase the electricity fed into the grid from participating local solar systems, under long-term contracts with the system owners.
In addition to securing the 10MW pilot program, Environment California seeks to ensure that LADWP's 2012/2013 budget includes 75MW of solar feed-in tariff programming, and that 150MW are budgeted by 2016. At these levels, the city will create an estimated 4,500 jobs, generate $500 million in economic activity, and offset 2.25 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2016.
"The feed-in tariff demonstration program is an important step towards creating a sustainable future for Los Angeles," concluded Kinman. "Continued investment in solar policies will decrease our dependence on dirty energy resources, build a sustainable economy based on market growth, clean air, and jobs, and solidify LA's role as a clean energy leader."