LOS ANGELES—New research from UCLA and USC conducted on behalf of the Los Angeles Business Council shows that the city’s rooftop solar program could potentially have enormous benefits for low-income communities. Expanding the Clean L.A. Solar program, a solar rooftop feed-in-tariff program, would create thousands of new jobs and generate millions of dollars.
To accomplish these lofty goals, the report requests that the city expand the program from 100 to 600 megawatts and provide incentives for solar developers and property owners in low-income communities. The goal isn’t impossible. The city has 10,000 acres of rooftop space, which could potentially support an even larger program. Furthermore, 40% of L.A.’s rooftops are located in what the report designates as “solar equity hot spots,” which refers to communities with both ample rooftop space and need of socioeconomic investment.
“For too long, LA’s disadvantaged communities have been left out of the city’s green economy,” Dr. Manuel Pastor, one of the report’s authors and the director of the USC PERE, tells GlobeSt.com. “Our report makes clear that the CLEAN LA Solar feed-in tariff is successfully expanding the benefits of renewable energy to every corner of Los Angeles, including the neighborhoods that need the most help. Expanding the program and ensuring we have credits and incentives to connect with disadvantaged communities will only increase these positive impacts.”
The expansion would also have enormous environmental benefits as well. A 600-megawatt program would mean that the city could generate a third of its energy by the year 2020. Already, the program has seen success. An earlier report conducted by the UCLA Luskin Center explains that it is meeting its ambitious goals. By 2015, the program will have generated 100 megawatts of clean power. Once it reaches that goal, 2.7 million tons of greenhouse gasses will be eradicated each year from the environment.
To expand the program from 100 to 600 megawatts could be challenging, however. The report notes that the process could be streamlined if the city conducted the permitting process online for commercial, industrial and multifamily projects. Additionally, the report recommends expediting the process for smaller projects and property owners, which the report believes have a greater impact on the local economy.