Los Angeles Celebrates Launch of Largest Municipal Solar Program in U.S.
Los Angeles, a city more often known for its celebrity sightings and Hollywood stars, also shines bright in the solar arena. The City of Angels has dazzled in the last decade with a strong record of sustainability. So much so that on April 19th, local and national government representatives as well as business leaders gathered to celebrate the launch of the city's solar Feed in Tariff (FIT) program (Clean L.A. Solar Program) at the Los Angeles Business Council's (LABC) Sustainability Summit. The program focused on how to harness sustainability programs and regulatory initiatives for job growth.
Essentially, the idea of the FIT is to make solar competitive in what naturally is one of the nation's sunniest communities. Similar to President Kennedy's mission to the moon, L.A.'s moonshot moment is to benefit from solar energy in a region blessed with sunny weather year round. Solar energy is especially appropriate in hot climates, as air conditioning demand coincides with the period of peak solar radiation.
L.A.'s FIT program will be the largest municipal commitment to solar, but not the first. Less sunny regions of the world, including Germany, have had FITs for more than a decade now. Germany's FIT program allowed it to become the world leader in the solar industry. Germany's program started at the municipal level and then later was adopted on a national level. Germany produced 12 megawatts (MW) of solar last year, much more than the U.S. despite being a fraction the size of the U.S. The most robust part of the job picture in Germany is in the renewable sector. The largest renewable companies are based in Germany because of the certainty of conducting solar business there. Solar power in Germany is now 30 percent cheaper than conventional power.
The success of Germany's program has inspired other regions to follow. Gainesville, Florida was the first city in the U.S. to adopt a FIT program, and other cities in CA such as San Jose, Bakersfield and Fresno have also adopted FIT programs before L.A. in part due to the state of California's law that utilities must offer FITs for their share of the 750 MW state target. L.A.'s FIT program officially began on February 1st 2013 and is now the largest program FIT in the U.S.
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Solar panel image via Shutterstock.