This story originally appeared in UCLA Today, a discontinued publication.

Coalition draws on UCLA research in campaign for rooftop solar energy program in L.A.

Cost-effective program estimated to create more than 11,000 local jobs

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A coalition of business, environmental and nonprofit organizations led by the Los Angeles Business Council launched a campaign July 8 to create a 600-megawatt solar "feed-in tariff" program for the city, based on research conducted by the Luskin Center for Innovation at the UCLA School of Public Affairs.
The program would facilitate private investment to meet Los Angeles' renewable energy goals by enabling residents and business to install solar panels on their property and sell the power generated back to the electrical grid.

Several key elected officials — including Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, City Council President Pro Tempore Jan Perry and City Councilman Paul Koretz — have already endorsed the proposal.

The coalition outlined specific guidelines for city policymakers about how to design a feed-in tariff program that could potentially create more than 11,000 local green jobs and generate enough clean energy to meet 3 percent of the city's needs while being cost-effective for ratepayers.
The proposal was developed based on a comprehensive report, "Bringing Solar Energy to Los Angeles: An Assessment of the Feasibility and Impacts on an In-basin Solar Feed-in Tariff Program," which was issued on July 8 by the UCLA's Luskin Center and the L.A. Business Council.

Drawing on an in-depth survey of major local energy users, county-wide mapping analysis of potential solar resources, and economic modeling, the report concludes that a feed-in tariff in Los Angeles could produce energy at a lower cost than the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's other potential sources over a 10-year period, while at the same time providing program participants with a 5 to 7 percent return on their investment.

"Los Angeles is uniquely positioned to create one of the world's most cost-effective and ambitious feed-in tariff programs because of our abundant year-round sunshine, the large prevalence of rooftop space and the ability of local business to use tax credits to cover approximately 40 percent of the cost of installing solar panels," said J.R. DeShazo, the primary author of the study and the director of UCLA's Luskin Center.

Highlighting the many benefits of an ambitious feed-in-tariff, coalition members — who range from representatives of the L.A. Chamber of Commerce to the Union Roofing Contractors Association to the Sierra Club — called on the LADWP to put a 600-megawatt program in place this year.
At an annual net cost of $25 million to $35 million, the feed-in tariff program could be paid for within LADWP's $4 billion fiscal-year budget (to be voted on later this year), which typically includes an allocation of hundreds of millions of dollars for renewable programs, coalition members said.
The coalition's proposed program, which draws on the UCLA–LABC study showing that the LADWP could spur widespread participation in a feed-in tariff program at a relatively low tariff rate, would be able to operate at a significantly lower cost than most others that have been developed globally, the members said.

The study's detailed analysis also shows that the cost of installing solar panels is likely fall as the price of other energy sources, like coal and natural gas, rises. As a result of this shift, solar energy generated by a feed-in tariff program would become more cost-effective than LADWP's other sources of energy within 10 years.

In addition to being a cost-effective renewable energy program, the feed-in tariff program proposed by the coalition — which would be the largest in the United States — would signal a long-term political commitment to greening Los Angeles that could be used as an incentive to attract clean-tech firms to the region.
Germany has used a nationwide feed-in tariff program to create the world's largest solar market, despite the country's marginal sunlight.That program has helped to create more than 100,000 jobs since 2004.

"We must act now to build a robust green economy in Los Angeles by making smart, cost-effective investments in renewable energy at our utility," said Mary Leslie, President of the L.A. Business Council. "Our study's modeling shows how a FiT would leverage private capital to generate jobs and clean energy here in the Los Angeles basin without placing additional burdens on ratepayers."

Additional background information is available at http://bit.ly/solarla.

View a list of coalition members in support the a FiT program at http://labusinesscouncil.org/sustainability.php.
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