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DWP financing plan would spur solar power and jobs in Southern California, business group says

July 8, 2010 | 12:35 pm

More than 11,000 local jobs, millions of dollars in tax revenue from new clean-tech companies, 600 megawatts of renewable energy within a decade: The Los Angeles Business Council is promising all this and more if the city would institute a solar financing program.

In a new report Thursday, which the Business Council commissioned from the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, a financing plan funded by the Department of Water and Power was touted as a way to help Los Angeles get 3% of its energy from the sun, create new jobs and attract companies to the area.

The program, popular in Florida as well as in Germany, would encourage businesses and homeowners to install solar panels on their rooftops and parking lots through the financing plan, called a feed-in tariff program.

Those who want to install a solar system would be able to sell the excess power they create to the DWP under a 20-year contract. The Business Council said the city utility could pay the estimated annual cost of up to $35 million through its proposed $4-billion budget, which is up for approval in October. The budget has set aside $800 million for renewable programs.

An influx of solar panels, the business group said, also would mean more manufacturing, installation and repairing jobs in the city – nearly triple the 4,300 local jobs that the utility’s other green-oriented programs have created so far.

Businesses that install the panels could cover about 40% of the cost with federal tax credits, the council said. In 20 years, participants would earn back the installation costs, plus a 5% to 7% return, the group estimated.

The DWP's purchase prices for the excess power generated would differ for businesses, residents, government institutions and nonprofit groups, the business group noted.

-- Tiffany Hsu
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