LA leads cities in solar energy production

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Los Angeles leads major cities across the nation in the amount of solar energy produced, according to a report released Thursday by the Environment California Research and Policy Center.

The report examined the installed solar capacity for 57 U.S. cities.  Los Angeles, with 132 megawatts of solar production, topped the list followed by San Diego, which produces 107 megawatts. 

L.A.'s 132 megawatts — which is roughly equal to the electricity needed to power 132,000 homes — is more than three the times the amount the city produced in 2011, according to a 2012 report by Environment California. 

“This is a moment in time to really celebrate where we are today as the nationwide leader in solar power, but it’s also a moment to look forward as to what can be done, because this is really just scratching the surface,” said Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate for Environment California.

Kinman said that the upsurge in production is due largely to a feed-in tariff program that the city began last year. The programs allows building owners to all the power generated by their solar panels to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. 

Still, Kinman said the amount of solar power currently produced in Los Angeles only covers about two percent of the city's needed power supply.

Solar advocates applauded the news of Los Angeles's embrace of solar power but said that much more is needed. 

"We really have a long way to go if we want to truly keep cleaning up Los Angeles’s air, get off the fossil fuels and get consumers the ability to tap into all of the Los Angeles famous sunshine,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association. 

The report also ranks cities by per capita solar production. Los Angeles ranks 13th in the nation.

"Cities like San Jose are out-installing Los Angeles on a per capita basis, so Los Angeles still has room for improvement," Del Chiaro said.

Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story misstated the amount of solar energy Los Angeles produces. The text above has been corrected. 

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