Empowering LA’s Solar Workforce: New Policies that Deliver Investments and Jobs

By JR DeShazo, UCLA Luskin Center; Manuel Pastor, USC PERE; and Mirabai Auer, USC PERE
November 2011

A hard-hitting academic study jointly authored by UCLA Luskin Center and USC PERE research teams finds that Los Angeles has a significant workforce trained and ready to contribute to the solar economy jobs, but that city leaders have so far failed to enact policies that would take advantage of this resource and put city residents to work.

Further, the study finds that the areas in Los Angeles with the greatest potential for rooftop solar power – and thus the greatest capacity to support solar-related jobs – include many areas suffering from high unemployment and economic need.

“Unless civic leaders ramp up efforts to expand solar programs, the city and region face the prospect of being left behind,” states the report, Empowering LA’s Solar Workforce: New Policies that Deliver Investments and Jobs. “This report is, above all, a wake-up call to policymakers to make certain they are utilizing an important workforce segment – and creating policies that will put qualified people to work.”

The report, presented by the LABC Institute, will be formally released at the LA Business Council’s “Building LA’s Workforce” Summit at UCLA on Nov. 16. It will be discussed at the event by a panel that includes three leading mayoral candidates– City Council President Eric Garcetti, Controller Wendy Greuel and Councilwoman Jan Perry.

The study finds that, while California has set a goal of generating 33 percent of its energy from renewable energy by 2020, our region lacks sound policies to meet these goals and employ ready green-economy workers. In fact, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has one of the weakest solar track records among major California utilities, generating less than one sixth as much solar power per customer as the state leader, Southern California Edison.

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