An adequate program to install solar energy panels could create up to 16,000 jobs in Los Angeles, particularly in the city’s low income areas, and generate $2 billion in local investment, which is nothing to sneeze at in these times of crisis. Nevertheless, according to a joint study by researchers from UCLA and USC-our two most prominent universities-the City of Los Angeles has not taken advantage of the opportunity, especially given that many workers have already been trained for this type of job through local programs (like for example by Homeboy Industries).
The state of California has set a renewable energy goal of 33% by 2020. However, our region does not have solid policies to reach this goal and employ its trained workers, in addition to facilitating panel installations for residents and small business owners in their homes and business premises.
In fact, according to researchers-the study was presented yesterday during a conference at UCLA- the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) has one of the weakest solar track records of all public utilities in Southern California. A few days ago, in an editorial published in local newspapers, assemblywoman Gloria Negrete criticized the fact that DWP’s plan to develop a solar panel network does not facilitate the implementation of medium- and small-sized projects like those supported by the FIT program. The FIT program, which was created by SB 32, a bill Negrete authored that got approved with strong backing, seeks to establish a fixed or introductory tariff for panel installation and then letting residents or businesses sell the surplus to their local utility.
Obviously, Los Angeles is missing an opportunity that can not only create jobs but also stimulate the use of clean energy. Local leaders should listen to this call and respond.