Los Angeles could use apartment rooftops for big solar gains

A report shows that L.A. could power 30,000 homes by putting solar panels on multi-family housing units. Fortunately, the city seems to be on the right track to make it happen.

Los Angeles is missing out. That's because it could be generating enough solar energy to power 30,000 homes by installing solar panels on top of apartment rooftops throughout the city.

That's according to a report from the Los Angeles Business Council. It points out that the large, flat roofs of many multi-family housing make apartment buildings ripe for solar development, with the potential to create more than 300 MW of energy and 4,500 jobs. They're easier to install, and have a larger generating capacity than solar panels on single family homes.

The report was issued alongside an announcement from city officials who plan to launch a pilot feed-in tariff program. It's a good sign the city is moving towards reaching its solar potential. The program would encourage property owners to invest in solar panels because they will be able to sell the power they generate back to the utility grid -- the report suggests 24 to 26 cents per kilowatt-hour to spur investment. But along with the feed-in tariff, the $300 million in tax credits that are available (until 2016) to property owners who invest in solar will also be necessary to make L.A. a successful solar city.

And because the buildings that have the greatest solar generation potential also house the city's most economically disadvantaged, the feed-in tariff program could help reduce housing costs.

"This study shows that a rooftop solar energy program can bring benefits to all of Los Angeles," said Los Angeles Business Council President Mary Leslie. “It will provide clean renewable energy, create thousands of local jobs and private investment, and aid our most distressed neighborhoods."

Photo: World Resources/Flickr

[Via Grist]

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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