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Going Solar in Sunny Southern California

Steve Stackhouse-Kaelble (Dec/Jan 10)
Southern California is famous for its sunshine. It's great for tourism, improves the quality of life - and is a great asset from an energy perspective. The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) has big plans to increase the amount of renewable energy available to customers, and solar power is a big part of that effort.

The utility's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) calls for creating about 1,280 megawatts of solar power by 2020. Doing so will require significant partnerships between the public power utility and private customers. Already, LADWP has been installing solar panels atop municipal buildings, with a goal of creating 50 megawatts of capacity by 2010 and 400 megawatts by 2014. The utility also is entering into long-term contracts to buy solar power from other generators, such as the Niland Solar Farm in Imperial Valley.

In addition, the SunShares program allows customers to own "virtual" shares of a solar power system. And then there are the traditional solar incentives that offer rebates to customers who install solar photovoltaic systems on their own rooftops. These and other efforts will be great for energy budgets, and will achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gases. State law calls for cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and then 80 percent below those 1990 levels by 2050.

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