DUKE HELFAND, Los Angeles Times, February 20, 2008
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other municipal leaders unveiled a green energy initiative Tuesday by the city’s utility that they predict will create as many as 400 union jobs over the next three years to install and maintain solar panels on city buildings and other structures around Los Angeles.
Villaraigosa promoted the new effort as part of a larger clean-growth strategy during an appearance atop a Los Angeles Convention Center parking garage with solar panels as a backdrop. He was flanked by five members of California’s congressional delegation, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-East Los Angeles).
“Clean energy is not a luxury; it’s a necessity,” he said.
On another jobs front, the mayor is scheduled to hold a news conference today to highlight what his office describes as progress toward a goal of providing 100,000 residents with living-wagejobs.
During today’s event at Goodwill Industries of Southern California, Villaraigosa will outline his administration’s workforce strategy for putting people to work in such key growth sectors as tourism, healthcare and construction, and for upgrading the skills of those already employed.
His office is working with the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Los Angeles Community College District and other organizations to promote the job training and placement plan. The effort is more than one-third of the way toward the 100,000 job goal, officials in the mayor’s office said.
Villaraigosa’s aides said the solar initiative by the Department of Water and Power — at a cost of $270 million through 2017 — is part of the overall jobs strategy. The DWP is launching the program to comply with a state law that directs retail energy suppliers to increase their reliance on solar power.
The DWP now generates 10.5 megawatts of solar power. It is working to meet a goal of 280 megawatts set by the state by installing its own solar panels, issuing rebates to companies that do so and striking partnerships with public and private entities to use the technology.
One environmental expert applauded the DWP for taking steps to expand its use of solar power, which now accounts for just 0.1% of its entire energy portfolio.
“I’ve just seen them crank the wheel real hard,” said Rhonda Mills, Southern California director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies. “They get it.”
Villaraigosa said the solar power plan is one of five new initiatives the DWP is undertaking to expand its portfolio of alternative energies.