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Los Angeles Business and Labor Leaders Endorse $500 Million Solar Program

A coalition of business and labor leaders are asking Los Angeles officials to back an innovative solar energy program that would create $500 million in local investment and create 900 high-paying jobs annually for the next five years, with a minimal impact on ratepayers.

The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, the American Lung Association in California and the Sierra Club have all endorsed the CLEAN LA proposal spearheaded by the Los Angeles Business Council.

The CLEAN (Clean Local Energy Accessible Now) LA proposal would allow businesses and residents to install solar panels on their roofs and sell the power generated back to the local utility, creating the largest program of its kind in the United States. The investment program is known as a feed-in tariff, or FiT.

“Los Angeles ratepayers deserve to profit from the power that solar energy produces,” says Business Council President Mary Leslie. “That’s why this unprecedented group of community leaders and industry stakeholders agree that renters and owners must be able to generate solar power and sell it back to the grid in LA.”

The letter to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, members of the City Council, and leaders from the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power requests that the program be funded in the LADWP’s Integrated Resource Plan.

“Harnessing our abundant sunshine will help Los Angeles move away from dirty, dangerous and increasingly expensive coal-fired power,” says Bill Corcoran, Western Region director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.

During the past two years, the business council has worked with researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles to design a model for an efficient and effective solar program. The CLEAN LA coalition is now calling on the city to back a five-year, 150-megawatt FiT that would start in July, and take advantage of up to $300 million in federal tax credits to businesses and homeowners to cover the cost of installing solar panels.

Mayor Villaraigosa first called for a solar FiT program in 2009. The city council is reviewing the CLEAN LA solar proposal and working toward enactment.

“The city's workforce can benefit tremendously from the high-paying jobs the CLEAN LA Solar Program can create over the next five years," says William Luddy, legislative director of the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters. "An investment in this program is an investment in the growth of a vigorous renewable energy industry that can energize the economic health of this entire region.”

The Business Council hopes to eventually expand the CLEAN LA plan to 600 megawatts, with the balance achieved by 2020.

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