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Urban power like rooftop solar dominates Brown's energy confab

July 25, 2011 |  6:18 pm


It may not be quite the renewable energy powerhouse that Germany and China are, but California will be well on its way once it speeds up installations of smaller, urban projects, Gov. Jerry Brown said Monday.

At a UCLA conference called to help figure how to achieve Brown’s goal of 12 gigawatts of localized clean power production, he and executives from SolarCity, Google and NRG talked about the state’s energy future.

“At the same time we try to balance our budgets, we have to keep investing,” he said. “We have to keep California up among the innovative places of the world.”

Which isn’t to say that Brown doesn’t also cheerlead for large, utility-scale projects. He referenced a massive 1-gigawatt solar installation in Blythe, where he had attended a groundbreaking ceremony a month earlier.

But after signing a mandate this spring requiring California to draw 33% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, Brown is on the lookout for cheaper and easier ways to generate clean power.

Enter distributed generation, which involves rooftop solar panels, small wind turbines, fuel cells and other technologies placed around homes and businesses.

Brown is among a large group of politicians and environmentalists -- including his predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Los Angeles Business Council -- to push for urban energy production as a complement to the larger and occasionally problematic mountain and desert installations.

“We’re in a very real sector here,” Brown said. For more on the conference, check out the Times’ Money & Co. blog.


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Photo: Homeowner Michelle Gerdes on top of her Long Beach roof. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times