White House Highlights Luskin Center Report UCLA Luskin Center research on clean energy solutions for Los Angeles cited by White House.

White House Says New Clean Energy Maps Answer Call to Unleash Data, Build Climate Resiliency

 UCLA-EDF Identify Major Opportunities to Curb Climate Pollution,
Spur Thousands of Clean Energy Jobs in Los Angeles County

(Los Angeles, CA – July 29, 2014) Los Angeles County is currently leaving around 98 percent of its solar capacity untapped. Achieving just 10 percent of its rooftop solar potential could create 47,000 jobs and slash nearly 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually — the equivalent of taking about half a million cars off the road — according to maps released today from the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and highlighted in a White House announcement.

“Through his Climate Data Initiative, President Obama is calling for all hands on deck to unleash data and technology in ways that will make businesses and communities more resilient to climate change,” said John P. Holdren, President Obama’s Science Advisor. “The commitments being announced today answer that call.”

The Los Angeles Solar and Efficiency Report (LASER) is a data-driven mapping tool designed to help communities identify opportunities to invest in projects that will save households money, create clean energy jobs, and strengthen climate resiliency in vulnerable communities. Maps show the region’s clean energy potential — in the form of rooftop solar energy generation and energy efficiency upgrades — which can reduce greenhouse gases while creating jobs and cutting electricity bills.

LASER also illustrates climate change-related heat impacts that are expected in the Los Angeles region, with a focus on the 38 percent of L.A. County residents (3.7 million people) living in environmentally-vulnerable communities burdened by air pollution and other risk factors, as identified by the California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool (CalEnviroScreen). Based on analysis of CalEnviroScreen data, the report highlights that fully 50 percent of the state’s most vulnerable population lives in L.A. County. The State of California is expected to use the CalEnviroScreen to identify disadvantaged communities for the purpose of prioritizing funding from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.  

“The project is timely because with new state funding sources becoming available, LASER can help inform how the region invests resources to address pressing environmental challenges while providing job opportunities in its most impacted communities,” said Colleen Callahan, lead author of the study and deputy director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation.

“Data mapping tools like LASER provide powerful visualizations of the harmful effects that climate change can have on our most vulnerable populations, while highlighting the potential for significant economic growth and substantially healthier communities,” said Jorge Madrid, EDF’s senior partnerships coordinator.

The maps are a response to President Obama’s Climate Data Initiative, a call to action to leverage public data in order to stimulate innovation and collaboration in support of national climate change preparedness. Alarming scientific findings from the National Climate Assessment show that climate change is already impacting all parts of the U.S., and arid regions like L.A. County can expect more intense heat waves in the coming decades — making resilience critical.

“Los Angeles is at the forefront of fighting climate pollution, deploying clean energy and preparing for the already tangible effects of climate change,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who serves on President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. “Through projects like the Los Angeles Solar and Efficiency Report, the city can help deploy more open data to inform community resiliency measures.”

The LASER project provides detailed, newly updated data at the County and municipality level designed to help policymakers and the public prepare for a warmer future. Maps demonstrate estimated temperature increases, current environmental health risks, and climate change vulnerability in various parts of the region. Parcel-level analysis gives planners and property owners detailed information about which buildings and other spaces across L.A. County are ripe for solar panel installation and energy efficiency measures. Taken as a whole, the project paints a comprehensive picture of clean energy opportunities in Southern California, and demonstrates the potential economic benefits of sustained investment in these strategies.

The research is part of UCLA’s Grand Challenge project “Thriving in a Hotter Los Angeles,” which sets a goal for the Los Angeles region to use exclusively renewable energy and local water by 2050 while protecting biodiversity and enhancing quality of life.

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 UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation (innovation.luskin.ucla.edu), unites scholars with civic leaders to address pressing issues confronting our community, nation, and world. The Luskin Center produces research that informs public policy, with a focus on advancing environmental sustainability and innovation.

 Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and our California Dream 2.0 Blog.  

 

 

UCLA Luskin Center Report Provides Guidance for Implementing Climate Investments Outlined in State Budget Lawmakers Approved this Week

California legislators approved a State budget on Sunday, marking a historic investment in climate action and local benefits especially for low-income communities.  The budget allocates $832 million in appropriations from the Greehouse Gas Reduction Fund to investments like sustainable communities and clean transportation, while leaving some process and project-level details yet to be determined.

The UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation released a REPORT today that could help fill in some of the details, proposing a systematic approach for implementing the investments.

With proceeds from the cap-and-trade program, California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund will soon result in billions of dollars to reduce carbon pollution while creating local economic, environmental, and public health benefits. Senate Bill 535 (de León), which became law in 2012, requires that at least 25 percent of these monies go to projects that provide benefits to disadvantaged communities in California. Through the leadership of Senator de León, neighborhoods that need it most will see investments in transit, affordable housing, and energy efficiency.

To support California’s climate leadership and implementation of SB 535, the Luskin Center convened a working conference this spring, the results of which are now summarized in today’s report.  “Investment Justice through the Greenhouse Reduction Fund: Implementing SB 535 and Advancing Climate Action in Disadvantaged Communities” contains four overarching recommendations:

  1. Establish a performance management approach for assessing program and project investment options (ex-ante) and tracking their results (ex-post). This approach would start with principles and goals contained in the germane state laws.
  2. Adopt criteria to screen, and indicators to score, investment options. The criteria should encompass and actualize the aforementioned goals, and all investment should be required to meet the eligibility criteria. The indicators should operate in a scoring system that prioritizes projects that achieve as many benefits as strongly as possible, while providing flexibility in how that is done.
  3. Select projects that meet SB 535 requirements by using metrics and thresholds to assess disadvantaged community benefits. Members of disadvantaged communities should have the opportunity to help define, to the extent feasible, investment priorities that then should inform corresponding metrics and performance targets/thresholds.
  4. Advance methods and data to make best use of the performance management approach. The State does not yet have sophisticated methods to estimate the co-benefits for disadvantaged communities, or even a common method for estimating how investments would achieve the primary goal of greenhouse gas reduction. This report makes recommendations for advancing these methods.

“Now that we have general allocations, we recommend that the State establish a performance management approach for assessing project-level investment options and tracking their results,” stated Colleen Callahan, a report author and deputy director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation. She adds, “This would involve criteria and indicators to screen and rank investments, with final SB 535 project selection guided by community input, metrics and thresholds.”

The report also contains considerations for making strategic and equitable investments in specific investment sector areas. Top priorities identified at this workshop as important for disadvantaged communities are reflected in the budget approved yesterday. This includes transit and low-carbon transportation, affordable housing and sustainable communities, weatherization and energy efficiency as well as sustainable urban forests programs.

Many of the recommendations in the report were informed by 150 representatives from disadvantaged communities, academia, government, civil society, and the private sector who participated in the UCLA hosted workshop.
For more information, see the REPORT and event WEBSITE with resources related to SB 535.

 

 

Convening Advances Path Forward for Investment Justice from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund

By Adeney Zo, UCLA Luskin Student Writer, and
Colleen Callahan, Luskin Center

The Luskin Center convened 150 leaders in government, nonprofits, academia and the private sector on March 21 for a workshop designed to advance climate action in disadvantaged communities. California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund is expected to generate tens of billions of dollars over the next decade to mitigate climate change and create local benefits. Senate Bill 535 (de León) requires that 25 percent of these monies go to projects that provide benefits to disadvantaged communities in California.

“This may be the largest environmental investment opportunity that these communities will see for decades,” stated J.R. DeShazo, director of the Luskin Center as he opened the workshop held at UCLA.

But many questions exist about revenue allocation and implementation. The Luskin Center hosted convening supported the development of an analytical and equitable approach for this process. Participants helped identify and refine evaluative criteria to guide investment decisions and performance metrics to track results of the investments for accountability and transparency. A summary of recommendations for a performance metrics tool will be released by UCLA later this year. The convening was a partnership with the SB 535 Quad.

What’s at Stake

Collage1State Senator Ricardo Lara’s keynote address underscored what is at stake. Millions of Californians are struggling economically and breathing dirty air while climate change will exacerbate economic and environmental health risks. Charles Lee, a national environmental justice leader with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, put the event in a national context, stating that environmental actions in California become models for the rest of the nation.

“We are here to build on the momentum started by many of you in this room who organized to pass SB 535, and are now working to fulfill the State’s promise to invest cap-and-trade revenues to benefit California’s disadvantaged communities,” DeShazo added.

Among these leaders were Marybelle Nzegwu at Public Advocates, who introduced Senator Lara’s keynote address at the workshop, along with Bill Magavern, policy director of Coalition for Clean Air, and Mari Rose Taruc, state organizing director for the Asian Pacific Environmental Network. Mari Rose and Bill presented on the key laws in California including: AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 that led to the cap-and-trade program, as well as SB 535 and AB 1532, which require that cap-and-trade revenues result in environmental, public health, and economic benefits for communities in need.

“We know the people in California that will be the most hurt by climate change are people with the least resources to face this problem,” stated Taruc. Yet as Magavern pointed out, the State has not yet defined what it means for an investment to “benefit disadvantaged communities,” and thus we need funding criteria and tracking mechanisms to verify that these investments are truly benefiting hard hit communities.

Implementation of a Landmark Law

Clifford Rechtschaffen, senior advisor for Governor Brown, spoke about the process and opportunities for SB 535 implementation. “We must make the disadvantaged community investment process inclusive, transparent, and accountable,” he stated while disclosing the State’s intent to hold public workshops on SB 535 implementation.

Rechtschaffen also discussed CalEnviroScreen, a tool the State developed to identify disadvantaged communities for the purpose of SB 535 implementation. “CalEnviroScreen can help the cap-and-trade program go to communities that most need it,” stated Rechtschaffen. Manuel Pastor, professor and director of the Program for Regional and Environmental Equity at USC, underscored the importance of this tool, which his research helped inform. The State’s tool measures cumulative risk, using a variety of environmental health and socioeconomic indicators.

Informing an Equitable and Performance-based Approach for Investment Benefits in Disadvantaged Communities

Collage 2Paving the way for the workgroups, Pastor then explained that each participant was grouped into one of six investment-sector focused sessions: 1) Sustainable Communities Strategies Implementation; 2) Low-Carbon Freight Transport; 3) Zero-Emission Passenger Transportation; 4) Energy Efficiency and Residential Weatherization; 5) Clean Renewable Energy; and 6) Community Greening and Forestry.

The charge for participants was to serve as policy analysts within their investment sector area. Pastor implied that the agenda for the workgroups was ambitiously aligned with a complex State process, but employed participants not to be intimidated by it. He spotlighted the important perspective of the environmental justice and community leaders in attendance.

The Greenlining Institute’s Vien Truong then made a presentation on “Criteria and Metrics.” Truong defined the terms as: “Principles capture broad goals, criteria are the objectives, and metrics are how we get there.” She proposed five criteria to drive funding allocation at the program level. The criteria were compiled by the UCLA Luskin Center and the SB 535 Quad, and derived from the relevant laws.

The breakout sessions that followed were designed to allow participants to refine the criteria and propose corresponding metrics. Each group discussed programs in their investment sector for which the criteria and metrics could be applied. Each of the six sessions began with presentations from State agency leaders who spoke about existing programs eligible for funding from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, per the State’s current Investment Plan. The groups then identified whether there were programs in their investment sector not on the table that should be eligible for funding in future three-year investment cycles. Finally, each group provided recommendations on how programs could best be implemented to benefit disadvantaged communities.

Recommendations and Next Steps 

Collage 3After hours of discussion, the six groups came back together. Colleen Callahan, deputy director of the Luskin Center, facilitated a panel in which a representative from each group summarized their discussion. Common themes across the groups included the importance of transparency and authentic community engagement; and leveraging of complementary programs across sectors. Proceedings from these discussions will be included in a report that the Luskin Center will release later this year.

To close out the workshop, a panel of government agency leaders shared how their agencies will approach the opportunity that SB 535 presents. Arsenio Mataka, assistant secretary of environmental justice and tribal affairs at Cal/EPA, summarized the workshop’s importance: “Our goal is helping communities with a sense of hopelessness. If we do our job to meet our requirements to reduce GHG, we can achieve investment justice.”

Hector De La Torre, board member of the California Air Resources Board, emphasized the need to show immediate results to fend off law suits. “We need to show the money is going to the things the law says it will go to,” De La Torre said. Chief Ken Pimlott, director of the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection, proposed that urban forestry could be a solution to the need for immediate results. “The state has a proven track record investing in urban forestry, and we can show results through projects in urban forestry,” Pimlott said.

Catherine J.K. Sandoval, commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission referred to the importance of selecting appropriate existing programs to fund and in the longer-term, even updating or adding new programs to best address the needs of disadvantaged communities.

Linda M. Wheaton of the California Department of Housing and Community Development emphasized the importance of the convening, stating,“It is time to take advantage of collaboration to develop inclusive and sustainable communities.”

J.R. DeShazo closed the workshop with a call for continued collaboration. He invited attendees to provide additional comments and review the post-workshop report. This report will contain recommendations for the State to achieve investment justice from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, to ensure that the investments combat climate change while providing tangible local benefits to hard hit communities.

 

Answering President Obama’s Call to Use ‘Climate Data’ to Grow Economy, Increase Resiliency

The UCLA Luskin Center and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) released new maps as part of the Graduated Density Zoning tool designed to help local leaders identify opportunities to invest in clean energy jobs and strengthen climate resiliency in vulnerable communities. The maps are a response to President Obama’s new Climate Data Initiative, a call to action to leverage data in order to stimulate innovation and climate change preparedness.

“The UCLA Luskin Center, along with our research partner the Environmental Defense Fund, looks forward to being part of a national movement bringing data to bear to help communities, companies and citizens effectively prepare for climate change,” said Colleen Callahan, deputy director of the Luskin Center.

The maps debuted at the Investment Justice through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund working conference on March 21 and also at the Environmental Forum hosted by Assembly member Mike Gatto on March 29.

“Data mapping tools like the LASER Atlas provide powerful visualizations of the effects that climate change can have on our most vulnerable communities, while also highlighting opportunities for economic growth, job creation and increased resiliency,” said Jorge Madrid of the Environmental Defense Fund.

For example, one map underscores that disadvantaged communities in L.A. County are benefiting from the installation of rooftop solar, with over 1,400 solar systems in low-income neighborhoods in just the investor-owned utility areas of the county alone. Yet another map in the LASER Atlas shows that we are only beginning to tap into L.A. County’s tremendous capacity to generate solar power. And doing so could reduce the need to fully operate polluting power plants in the region.

The maps also illustrate that residents of L.A. County are disproportionately impacted by environmental risks but, in turn, could disproportionately benefit from upcoming investments from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. This Fund provides a new opportunity to invest in renewable energy, as well as clean transportation and sustainable communities, to combat climate change and create jobs. SB 535 requires that at least 25 percent of the monies from this Fund go to projects that provide benefits to disadvantaged communities.

The LASER Atlas research contributes to UCLA’s Grand Challenge Project “Thriving in a Hotter Los Angeles,” whose goal is for the Los Angeles region to use exclusively renewable energy and local water by 2050 while protecting biodiversity and enhancing quality of life.

 

Dr. Renée Kidson on Accounting for Carbon: National Greenhouse Gas Inventories and International Reporting

On Thursday, January 23rd, the Luskin Center for Innovation hosted a lecture by Dr. Renée Kidson. Besides being an expert in water management, an economist, and a Major in the Australian Army, Dr. Kidson is also the Director of the Australian National Greenhouse Gas Inventory – she is the chief administrator for the process of tallying up, as best as possible, the total sum of greenhouse gases emitted throughout all of Australia.

With nations around the world struggling to adapt to the effects of climate change, there is a growing recognition of the importance of international cooperation to mitigate this global issue. The key UN treaty that seeks to regulate this area is the UNFCCC, which mandates that every signatory must submit a national greenhouse gas inventory annually.

Such a task is obviously immensely complex. Dr. Kidson elaborated a bit on the overview of how that task is accomplished, and where it can become problematic.

In Australia, as in most countries, 5 major domains account for most anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions:

  1. Energy production
  2. Industrial processes
  3. Agriculture
  4. Waste
  5. Land Use, Land Use Change, and Forestry

Focusing on an overall emissions result can mask dynamic changes occurring in each of these areas.  Australia has actually successfully come in under its international GHG target for the last 5 years, mostly due to reforms and improvements in its land use and forestry policies.

One of the questions that comes up immediately is how reliable are the data that are aggregated in these projects. Dr. Kidson acknowledged that this is of course an incredible challenge – adjustments must be made for small or transient businesses that go unreported, statistical uncertainties, and other factors.  But she also highlighted complex mapping and software tools, stringent reporting and regulatory efforts, and a surprisingly participatory tone among Australia’s business community as factors that helped the government’s effort.

As an extra check on quality, and perhaps most emblematic of the amazing access to information possible in the modern age, the entire review is freely available to researchers, journalists, engineers, and the lay public at: http://ageis.climatechange.gov.au/

-Written by Nathan Otto, UCLA Public Policy Graduate Student

Luskin Center sets out to make L.A. a greener place to live, work The Luskin Center for Innovation has set a goal to produce research that will help Los Angeles become more environmentally sustainable

By Cynthia Lee

Green power. Solar energy incentives. Renewable energy. Smart water systems. Planning for climate change. Clean tech in L.A. For the next three years, the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation has set an ambitious goal to produce research that will help Los Angeles and state and federal agencies reach the Holy Grail of environmental sustainability.

Five Luskin scholars are working on initiatives that could change how residents, businesses, industries and government meet the challenge of living more sustainably. The Luskin center is carrying out a mission that was broadly outlined by Chancellor Gene Block in his inaugural address on May 13, 2008: to marshal the university’s intellectual resources campuswide and work toward intense civic engagement to solve vexing local and regional problems. “I believe that UCLA can have its greatest impact by focusing its expertise from across the campus to comprehensively address problems that plague Los Angeles,” the chancellor told an audience in Royce Hall.

With an agenda packed with six hefty research initiatives, the center is diving into that task under the leadership of its new director, J.R. DeShazo, an environmental economist and associate professor of public policy who also heads the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies. DeShazo took the reins in October when the center moved from the Chancellor’s Office to the School of Public Affairs, a move that took advantage of the school’s outward orientation. “It’s focused on policy solutions, so this is a natural place for us to grow,” DeShazo said. “But even though the center is located here, we’re very cross-disciplinary. We have researchers from chemistry, public health, engineering, the Anderson management school, the Institute of the Environment (IoE) and public policy.”

The five scholars working on the six initiatives are DeShazo; Yoram Cohen, an engineering professor and director of the Water Technology Research Center; Magali Delmas, professor of management and the IoE; Hilary Godwin, professor of environmental health sciences; and Matt Kahn, professor of economics in the departments of Economics and Public Policy and IoE. “We started off by identifying problems that our community is facing and that it can’t solve,” DeShazo said. Then, they asked two questions: “Does UCLA have the research capacity to address this deficit? And can we find a civic partner who can make use of this new knowledge?” Proposals were prioritized by a 16-member advisory board with a broad representation of business and nonprofit executives, elected officials and a media expert. Among the high-profile board members are State Senators Carol Liu and Fran Pavley; Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board; Los Angeles Council President Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel; Assemblymember Mike Feuer; John Mack, chairman of the Police Commission; and William Ouchi, professor of the Anderson School and chairman of the Riordan Programs.

“We take our research ideas and develop real-world solutions that can be passed on to a civic partner with whom we can engage and support,” DeShazo said. “We let them carry through with the politics of policy reform as well as the implementation. We don’t get involved in advocacy.” An array of local green research DeShazo recently completed Luskin’s first initiative with his research on designing a solar energy program for L.A. that would minimize costs to ratepayers. His research – the basis of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s new energy policy – proposes a solar feed-in tariff that would help everyone from homeowners and nonprofits to commercial property owners buy solar panels and be able to sell their solar energy to utility companies for a small profit.

Other Luskin research initiatives involve creating smart water systems for Southern California with water reclamation, treatment and reuse (UCLA researcher Cohen will work in partnership with the Metropolitan Water District); helping local governments plan for climate change (DeShazo with the California Air Resources Board and the Southern California Association of Governments); and reducing toxic exposures to nanomaterials in California (Godwin with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.) In another initiative in partnership with the Mayor’s Office and the California Air Resources Board, researchers are compiling a database of jobs created by clean tech activities in L.A. County and will document best practices that other cities have used to attract and support clean tech development. Luskin’s Kahn is working with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District to pinpoint what determines how much electricity is used by residential and commercial consumers and how the district can market its major green energy programs to increase participation.

Finally, Delmas is looking into whether the Green Business Certification Program approved recently by the City Council will reduce the overall carbon footprint of small businesses. The program offers incentives and assistance to small business owners in L.A. to become more efficient and less wasteful in their everyday practices. Those businesses that meet certain “green” criteria will be certified as being environmentally friendly. Her partner in this venture is the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

UP Doctoral Students Receive Rishwain Social Justice Entrepreneurship Awards Two urban planning doctoral students were recognized for their outstanding contributions to community based social entrepreneurship

The Center for Community Partnerships has announced the winners of the first Rishwain Social Justice Entrepreneurship Award:   Urban Planning doctoral students Ava Bromberg and John Scott-Railton were recognized for their outstanding contributions to community based social entrepreneurship, serving the community in ground-breaking ways.

Ava Bromberg created a Mobile Planning Lab, a converted camper designed to take urban planning issues to low-income residents in South Los Angeles. Working with the Figueroa Corridor Coalition for Economic Justice and the United Neighbors in Defense against Displacement, she created the project “Visions for Vermont,” which helps to engage residents in land use plans by providing a mobile, neutral, and local setting for neighbors and city planners to go over models, maps and data, and to discuss the future development and growth of their communities. Her project has given a voice to residents to show city planners the concerns and comments of the neighborhood in order to create sustainable development.

Halfway across the world, in Dakar, Senegal, John Scott-Railton has been working to solve “collective action” problems in villages as they seek to deal with unseasonable rains and devastating floods that are related to climate change. Using inexpensive handheld technology, John has partnered with Senegalese universities, climate scientists and their students, non-profit organizations, and community members to apply sophisticated mapping techniques, hybridized surveys, and linked satellite mapping to the village level toward developing more effective, long-term parcel-based solutions. As Railton continues his fieldwork, he plans to redouble efforts to steer local officials towards a pilot program in which community members and the government share responsibility for mitigating flooding.

A ceremony was held in Royce Hall to honor the recipients for their social justice entrepreneurial work with opening remarks by Dean Franklin D. Gilliam Jr. of the School of Public Affairs and a keynote address by Professor Jonathan Greenblatt, Anderson School of Management.

For more details see the recent article at the website for the UCLA Newsroom.

UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation Releases Solar Feed-in Tariff Report Informing Renewable Energy Policy in Los Angeles The Luskin Center for Innovation at the UCLA School of Public Affairs unites the intellectual capital of UCLA with the Los Angeles Business Council to publish a report on an effective feed-in tariff system for the greater Los Angeles area

By Minne Ho

The UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation and the Los Angeles Business Council has publicly released the report, “Designing an Effective Feed-in Tariff for Greater Los Angeles.” The report was unveiled yesterday at the Los Angeles Business Council’s Sustainability Summit, attended by hundreds of the city’s elected officials and business, nonprofit, and civic leaders.

J.R. DeShazo, the director UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation, has long studied how governments can promote and help implement environmentally friendly energy policies. His recent research on solar energy incentive programs, conducted with Luskin Center research project manager Ryan Matulka and other colleagues at UCLA, has already become the basis for a new energy policy introduced by the city of Los Angeles.

On Monday, March 15, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced an ambitious program to move the city’s energy grid toward renewable energy sources over the next decade. Included in the plan is a provision — based in large part on the Luskin Center research — for a “feed-in tariff,” which would encourage residents to install solar energy systems that are connected to the city’s power grid.

The overall plan would require ratepayers to pay 2.7 cents more per kilowatt hour of electricity consumed, with 0.7 cents of that — a so-called carbon surcharge — going to the city’s Renewable Energy and Efficiency Trust, a lockbox that will specifically fund two types of programs: energy efficiency and the solar power feed-in tariff.

Under the feed-in tariff system, homeowners, farmers, cooperatives and businesses in Los Angeles that install solar panels on homes or other properties could sell solar energy to public utility suppliers. The price paid for this renewable energy would be set at an above-market level that covers the cost of the electricity produced, plus a reasonable profit. “A feed-in tariff initiated in this city has the potential to change the landscape of Los Angeles,” said DeShazo, who is also an associate professor of public policy at the UCLA School of Public Affairs. “If incentivized appropriately, the program could prompt individual property owners and businesses to install solar panels on unused spaces including commercial and industrial rooftops, parking lots, and residential buildings. Our projections show that the end result would be more jobs and a significant move to renewable energy with no net cost burden to the city.”

Feed-in tariffs for solar energy have been implemented in Germany and several other European countries, as well as domestically in cities in Florida and Vermont. The programs have moved these regions to the forefront of clean energy. And while these programs have necessitated slight increases in ratepayers’ monthly electricity bills, they have also generated thousands of new jobs. The mayor estimated that under the program announced Monday, 18,000 new jobs would be generated over the next 10 years. “For Los Angeles to be the cleanest, greenest city, we need participation from every Angeleno,” Villaraigosa said. “We know that dirty fossil fuels will only become more scarce and more expensive in the years to come. This helps move us toward renewable energy while at the same time creating new jobs.”

The new program had its genesis last year, when Villaraigosa announced a long-term, comprehensive solar plan intended to help meet the city’s future clean energy needs. The plan included a proposal for a solar feed-in tariff program administered by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. In September 2009, the Los Angeles Business Council created a Solar Working Group consisting of leaders in the private, environmental and educational sectors in Los Angeles County to investigate the promise of the feed-in tariff for Los Angeles and commissioned the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation to lead the investigation. In addition to DeShazo and Matulka, the working group also included Sean Hecht and Cara Horowitz from the UCLA School of Law’s Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment. The first phase of their research examined current models operating in Germany, Spain, Canada, Vermont and Florida to propose guidelines for a feed-in tariff design. The second phase looks at the potential participation rates in a large-scale solar feed-in tariff program in Los Angeles and its impact on clean energy in the Los Angeles basin.

The Luskin Center for Innovation at the UCLA School of Public Affairs unites the intellectual capital of UCLA with forward-looking civic leaders in Los Angeles to address urgent public issues and actively work toward solutions. The center’s current focus in on issues of environmental sustainability.

Mayor Villaraigosa Announces L.A. Solar Energy Incentive Plan Based on UCLA Luskin Research

J.R. DeShazo, the director UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation, has long studied how governments can promote and help implement environmentally friendly energy policies. Now, his recent research on solar energy incentive programs, conducted with Luskin Center research project manager Ryan Matulka and other colleagues at UCLA, has become the basis for a new energy policy introduced by the city of Los Angeles.

On Monday, March 15, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced an ambitious program to move the city’s energy grid toward renewable energy sources over the next decade. Included in the plan is a provision — based in large part on the Luskin Center research — for a “feed-in tariff,” which would encourage residents to install solar energy systems that are connected to the city’s power grid. The overall plan would require ratepayers to pay 2.7 cents more per kilowatt hour of electricity consumed, with 0.7 cents of that — a so-called carbon surcharge — going to the city’s Renewable Energy and Efficiency Trust, a lockbox that will specifically fund two types of programs: energy efficiency and the solar power feed-in tariff. Under the feed-in tariff system, homeowners, farmers, cooperatives and businesses in Los Angeles that install solar panels on homes or other properties could sell solar energy to public utility suppliers.

The price paid for this renewable energy would be set at an above-market level that covers the cost of the electricity produced, plus a reasonable profit. “A feed-in tariff initiated in this city has the potential to change the landscape of Los Angeles,” said DeShazo, who is also an associate professor of public policy at the UCLA School of Public Affairs. “If incentivized appropriately, the program could prompt individual property owners and businesses to install solar panels on unused spaces including commercial and industrial rooftops, parking lots, and residential buildings. Our projections show that the end result would be more jobs and a significant move to renewable energy with no net cost burden to the city.”

Feed-in tariffs for solar energy have been implemented in Germany and several other European countries, as well as domestically in cities in Florida and Vermont. The programs have moved these regions to the forefront of clean energy. And while these programs have necessitated slight increases in ratepayers’ monthly electricity bills, they have also generated thousands of new jobs.

The mayor estimated that under the program announced Monday, 18,000 new jobs would be generated over the next 10 years. “For Los Angeles to be the cleanest, greenest city, we need participation from every Angeleno,” Villaraigosa said. “We know that dirty fossil fuels will only become more scarce and more expensive in the years to come. This helps move us toward renewable energy while at the same time creating new jobs.”

The new program had its genesis last year, when Villaraigosa announced a long-term, comprehensive solar plan intended to help meet the city’s future clean energy needs. The plan included a proposal for a solar feed-in tariff program administered by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. In September 2009, the Los Angeles Business Council created a Solar Working Group consisting of leaders in the private, environmental and educational sectors in Los Angeles County to investigate the promise of the feed-in tariff for Los Angeles and commissioned the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation to lead the investigation.

In addition to DeShazo and Matulka, the working group also included Sean Hecht and Cara Horowitz from the UCLA School of Law’s Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment. The first phase of their research examined current models operating in Germany, Spain, Canada, Vermont and Florida to propose guidelines for a feed-in tariff design. The second phase looks at the potential participation rates in a large-scale solar feed-in tariff program in Los Angeles and its impact on clean energy in the Los Angeles basin. The Los Angeles Business Council is expected to release the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation’s complete report on solar energy feed-in tariffs next month. The Luskin Center for Innovation at the UCLA School of Public Affairs unites the intellectual capital of UCLA with forward-looking civic leaders in Los Angeles to address urgent public issues and actively work toward solutions. The center’s current focus in on issues of environmental sustainability.

Experts outline scope of nationwide project on climate change Albert Carnesale, chancellor emeritus and professor of public policy at UCLA, chaired the Committee on America's Climate Choices to guide the nation's response to climate change

The country’s leading researchers on climate change came to Westwood recently to give the public a chance to learn and ask questions about the current science on climate change, options facing the United States and the work of the Committee on America’s Climate Choices, the group that sponsored the event Jan. 13 at the W Hotel.

The committee, which is chaired by Chancellor Emeritus and Professor of Public Policy Albert Carnesale, is leading a nationwide project launched by the National Academies and requested by Congress to provide policy-relevant advice, based on scientific evidence, to help guide the nation’s response to climate change. America’s Climate Choices involves four panels of experts in addition to the main committee, representing government, the private section and research institutions. They are evaluating strategies available to limit the magnitude of future climate change, to adapt to its impacts and advance climate change science, among other goals. The open session in Westwood was one of a series of town hall discussions held in Irvine; Boulder, CO; Washington, D.C.; and other cities.  A final report will be released sometime this summer.

Read the story at UCLA Today.