Ranking last in solar capacity per capita among major U.S. utilities, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's (LADWP) reliance on coal for 45 percent of its energy is a slap in the face to Mother Nature. Seeking to take greater advantage of sunshine, one of the elements that Southern California has in abundance, last month the "LA City Council approved a measure that paves the way for a 10-megawatt demonstration program-enough to power 10,000 households-that reimburses residents for the solar energy they produce," reports Jao.
While the program's eventual expansion to 150-megawatts in four years is a good start, with "the potential to create 4,500 jobs, generate $500 million in economic activity, and offset 2.25 million tons of carbon dioxide," environmental economist J.R. DeShazo, head of the Luskin Center for Innovation at UCLA, argues that, "LADWP has to take bigger steps."
"Commissioned by the LABC [Los Angeles Business Council], the center designed a program that would, in the long run, produce solar energy as cost effectively as gas, and found that the sweet spot is a 600-megawatt program, which prioritizes large rooftops, phased in over ten years. The larger program would power 136,000 homes."