Solar policy could green up rooftops, pockets in Los Angeles

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File photo: Employees of Solar Forward install solar electric panels on a residential rooftop on February 27, 2009 in Santa Monica, California.

Some Los Angeles City Council members want the Department of Water and Power to speed up development of rooftop solar power in the city.

State law requires utilities to design something called a feed-in tariff. It's a policy that encourages renewable energy, usually from the sun.

Business and environmental groups in the region have studied feed-in tariffs. They say putting as much as 600 megawatts of solar on buildings could generate millions of dollars in federal tax credits, plentiful green jobs and reliable local power.

That much electricity could keep the lights on in several hundred thousand homes each year.

The DWP has been talking about such a policy for some years now, but cautiously. Its preference has been to own and operate its own power – not to pay homeowners and others for the energy they generate, as this policy would.

Councilwoman Jan Perry is proposing a 75-megawatt feed-in tariff as a pilot program. She wants the DWP to report back on its costs and its prospects for success. If her measure succeeds, the DWP will consider placing projects and jobs in economically disadvantaged parts of Los Angeles.

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