Los Angeles voters of all political persuasions want more local solar powering their city; in fact they want lots more. So says a new poll on L.A. attitudes toward renewable energy conducted by the public research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3) for Vote Solar. Along with our fellow advocates, we’re urging city and utility leaders to take note and keep taking bold steps to expand solar investment at LADWP, the nation’s largest municipal utility.
“Sunny Los Angeles has enormous potential to lead the state in solar energy, and in recent months city leaders have done a commendable job of putting L.A. in a position to harness that homegrown renewable resource,” said our own Southwestern Solar Advocate Susannah Churchill. “Our poll shows that this is the kind of solar progress that Angelenos overwhelmingly want to see in their community.”
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) accounts for 10 percent of California’s electricity demand. The utility currently gets less than 1% of its power from solar generation, falling behind much of the rest of the state. Their online power content label actually has solar power at 0% of their portfolio. Right now, L.A. solar is a rounding error. Clearly, sunny L.A. has a whopping untapped local solar opportunity.
Looking to put that rooftop potential to good use, Los Angeles has recently taken steps to expand its use of local solar power. In September 2011, LADWP reopened its Solar Incentive Program with a goal of installing 125 megawatts (MW) of net metered solar to meet on-site power needs at homes and businesses. And in April 2012, the City Council and Mayor authorized LADWP to move forward with a new feed-in tariff program called CLEAN LA that will add 150 MW of rooftop solar power to the city’s electricity mix. It’s the biggest municipal feed-in tariff in the country – pretty exciting! Together these programs will result in about five times the amount of solar currently installed in L.A. and generate enough electricity to power more than 60,000 homes.
“Local solar power puts our energy dollars to work building a healthier and more prosperous L.A. An expanded solar program would put more boots on roofs and create more jobs in areas that need them most,” said Bill Gallegos, Executive Director of Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), a leading environmental justice organization. Poor communities often get the worst of the fossil fuel energy system. It is only fair that they enjoy the environmental, health, and economic benefits of the clean energy system.
“In addition to proving hugely popular among L.A. residents, expanded use of local clean energy can reduce the city’s dependence on out-of-state dirty coal power,” said Evan Gillespie Sierra Club, America’s largest grassroots environmental organization. “City leadership has set an exciting goal of getting LADWP off dirty coal. It just makes economic and environmental sense to harvest our homegrown solar resource, creating more local jobs and economic development for Angelenos.
Which brings us back to the poll: findings confirmed that Los Angeles voters stand behind the kind of solar leadership recently demonstrated by the city and would support further solar investment. An overwhelming majority feels that the city should have its eyes on the target of 1,200 MW of solar – that’s LADWP’s share of Governor Brown’s statewide local clean power goal. 1,200 MW of rooftop solar would generate enough clean, reliable electricity to power more than 260,000 homes and make Los Angeles a real solar powerhouse.
Key poll findings:
- A large majority of voters want LADWP to use more electricity generated from renewable sources like solar (87 percent) and wind (79 percent).
- In fact, a large majority want LADWP to use MUCH more renewable electricity: 73 percent want at least half of the city’s electricity mix to be renewable.
- Three-quarters (76 percent) of respondents specifically feel that LADWP should be doing more to expand the use of local rooftop solar in Los Angeles.
- Four out of five (81 percent) support LADWP increasing its local solar goal to 1,200 megawatts, LADWP’s portion of Governor Brown’s statewide goal for local clean power. Support for this goal remains strong across the political spectrum, with majorities of Democratic, Republican and Independent voters all expressing support.
From March 14-18, 2012, FM3 completed 400 telephone interviews with registered voters who are Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) customers. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of +/- 4.9%.
A memo detailing the survey and findings is available here.