City Hall, Los Angeles – Gathered on the top floor of City Hall, with a vast expanse of Los Angeles rooflines in plain view, a broad coalition of elected officials, leading businesses, public health professionals, environmental groups and veterans rallied behind an unparalleled goal to make Los Angeles the nation’s solar power leader.
The group is calling on Los Angeles to meet 20 percent of its energy needs with rooftop solar power by 2020 and gathered today, in part, to release a new Environment California Research & Policy Center report, Solar in the Southland, detailing the environmental and economic benefits of rooftop solar for Los Angeles.
“Solar power is a no-brainer for Los Angeles,” said Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate with Environment California Research & Policy Center and author of the report. “With our abundant sunshine, our miles upon miles of rooftops, and our love of new technology, Los Angeles has all of the ingredients necessary to be the nation’s solar power capital, bringing cleaner air and more local jobs to the area.”
As the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) seeks to replace or repower 70 percent of its current energy supply over the next 15 years, support is growing for Los Angeles to shift aggressively toward clean energy solutions like solar power.
“Swapping out old and dirty coal plants for new and dirty gas plants would be a costly error when so much free sunshine falls on our homes and businesses every day,” said Evan Gillespie, Western Region Deputy Director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “At such a pivotal moment for L.A.'s energy future, a 20 percent local solar commitment is essential to moving L.A. forward.”
The 20 percent by 2020 solar goal has already garnered endorsements from both mayoral candidates —Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel—as well as from newly re-elected City Councilmember Paul Koretz, who spoke at today’s press conference, alongside other city opinion leaders.
"I'm so pleased that Los Angeles is now on a fast track to get away from the coal power emissions that are fouling the planet," said Councilmember Koretz. "Now we as a City need to stay focused and replace the dirty fossil fuels of the past with the clean renewables of the future. It's a no-brainer. The more solar we bring to rooftops right here in LA, the more jobs we bring to build them."
To date, over 30 businesses and organizations as well as thousands of citizens throughout Los Angeles have endorsed the 20 percent rooftop solar goal, recognizing that solar power can benefit our environment, our health and our economy—providing cleaner air, reducing global warming, conserving water and creating jobs.
According to the Environment California Research & Policy Center report released today, reaching this goal would prevent the annual emission of over 1.1 million metric tons of global warming pollution, which is comparable to eliminating the tailpipe emissions of 230,000 passenger vehicles. In addition, installing this amount of solar power would prevent the emission of over 730,000 pounds of smog-forming pollution per year.
“Rooftop solar puts Los Angeles on a path toward cleaner air, healthier communities, and economic growth,” said Dr. Luis Pacheco, a Los Angeles physician and co-Chair of solar organization CAUSE. “To ensure long-term public health for all Angelenos, we need to do everything we can to encourage and support solar growth.”
To hit the 20 percent goal, Los Angeles would need to install 1,200 MW of local solar power, which would create jobs and save Angelenos money. Building 1,200 MW of local solar by 2020 would create approximately 32,000 job-years of employment. To put this number in context, the University of California, Los Angeles—which ranks among the city’s leading employers—has a workforce of just under 32,000 people.
“The economics of rooftop solar are a win-win for Los Angeles, because as a robust market is achieved, local investment grows and energy spending stays in the region,” said Craig Lewis, Executive Director of the Clean Coalition. “Additionally, solar power quickly becomes one of the cheapest sources of electricity available. When considering the tremendous potential of solar in Los Angeles, Angelenos should expect nothing less than world-class access to solar power.”
Los Angeles business leaders further put the 20 percent by 2020 goal into perspective.
"The L.A. Business Council wants Los Angeles to be the nation’s solar power leader because increasing our city's solar capacity is good for business, it’s good for jobs, and it’s good for the environment," said Michelle Garakian, Vice President of the Los Angeles Business Council.
"Los Angeles is one of the world's leading centers for media and trade and it now has the opportunity to be a leader in the clean energy sector with the 1,200 megawatt initiative," said Danny Kennedy, co-founder of leading residential solar company, Sungevity, and author of Rooftop Revolution, How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy – and Our Planet – from Dirty Energy. "The economic, environmental and health benefits of solar power are clear and I am very pleased to lend my support to this important campaign."
“LADWP is the nation’s largest municipal utility, significant on the world stage,” concluded Kinman. “Its leadership on solar power—and the broader clean energy transition—will be crucial not only for Los Angeles and California, but also for the nation. We look forward to working with city leaders to turn this goal into a clean energy reality for generations to come.”
An up-to-date list of individuals, businesses and organizations that have endorsed the 1,200 MW rooftop solar goal can be found on Environment California’s website.
Environment California Research & Policy Center is a statewide nonprofit environmental research and policy organization working to protect California’s air, water and open spaces. More information can be found at www.environmentcalifornia.org/center.