November 25, 2008 By Elaine Rundle
On Nov. 24, 2008, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa unveiled a renewable energy plan with the goal of installing 1.3 gigawatts (GW )of solar power in the city by 2020. The executive summary states that the city has been synonymous with smog and sprawl, and in 2004 L.A. emitted more than 50 million tons of carbon dioxide. The L.A. Department of Water and Power (LADWP) was responsible for one-third of that number due to its reliance on deriving energy from fossil fuels and natural gas.
The initiative -- named Solar LA -- seeks to harness the city's 276 days of sunshine into photovoltaic (PV) energy, according to the Los Angeles Solar Energy Plan. The plan refers to the initiative as the "largest solar plan undertaken by any single city in the world."
"It is time that we use our most abundant natural resource to create the electricity and the jobs we need for our future," Villaraigosa said in the press release. "Today, we are turning up the heat and taking the next step to become a shining example of green growth worldwide."
In order to meet the goal of 1.3 GW, the network will be a combination of residential, commercial and municipally owned PV systems. The plan outlines different goals for different contributors: Residential and commercial buildings will equate for 380 MW of solar power; the LADWP will be responsible for 400 megawatts (MW) by installing PV systems on city-owned buildings and property in the city; and large-scale privately owned projects in the Mojave Desert will garner 500 MW.
Solar LA also plans to aid the economy. According to the report, every 10 MW of solar can create 200 to 400 jobs in a variety of fields, such as research and development, manufacturing, installation, maintenance and repair.
In a Los Angeles Times article, LADWP General Manager H. David Nahai said his preliminary figures assume that the initiative will garner $1.5 billion in federal tax credits. It's estimated the plan will cost around $3 billion. Nahai also said the agency will develop a detailed financial analysis of the plan over the next 90 days.