LEEPS kicks off with Maximizing the Impact of Solar on Affordable Housing symposium, setting stage for more policy discussions

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September 22, 2017

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Above, two suited individuals behind a podium address an event; below, a mix of panelists from different races, genders, and ages pose for a photo
Exec. Director Michael Kadish intro'ing CSO Gary Gero; Walker Wells (Global Green), Tara Barauskas (Community Corp of Santa Monica), Jae Berg (Center for Sustainable Energy), and Blanca de la Cruz (Cal. Housing Partnership Corp), with JR DeShazo on left.

Our vibrant first conference, Maximizing the Impact of Solar on Affordable Housing, marked an important success for the innovative policy work underway at GRID Greater Los Angeles and a momentous opportunity for local stakeholders to learn and share. Thanks to more than two dozen stellar panelists and keynote speakers who contributed to making our September 14 event a step forward for energy equity in L.A.! We couldn't have been more pleased to see 100+ individuals from across multiple fields convene at the Japanese American National Museum's Center for the Preservation of Democracy, where we talked about bringing solar's savings and jobs to those with the highest need: our renters. If you were one of many attendees to join us in Little Tokyo, then on behalf of GRID GLA's partners, including California Housing Partnership Corporation, HACLA, and Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing, we hope your attendance last Thursday becomes a step towards getting involved in an inclusive multifamily solar future.

We started the Los Angeles Energy and Equity Policy Series (LEEPS) this year because of our unique capacity to serve as a leader advancing equity among local employer, government, and community partners participating in a transition to renewable energy that includes everyone. With our first conference on multifamily solar for residents of affordable housing, we wanted to deliver on LEEPS' promise of starting intelligent conversations, promoting good policy, and highlighting economic, energy, and legislative solutions. Given our recent work in cities like Santa Ana and Lancaster, we felt positioned to start a new round of dialogue about extending benefits and maximizing their value for disadvantaged communities. Important factors in the community where we work – Los Angeles' mounting housing crisis, the implementation of new state rebates during MASH 2.0, and critical demand for employees in a fast-growing solar industry – made this the perfect time for a cross-sectional symposium. That's what brought us and our GLA partners to the planning table, where we organized a conference featuring speakers like Gary Gero, L.A. County's first Chief Sustainability Officer; Lauren Faber, City of Los Angeles CSO; Ben Winter, Housing Policy Lead, Mayor Eric Garcetti's Office of Economic Opportunity; and morning keynote Nancy Sutley, Chief Sustainability and Economic Development Officer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Our morning panel on multifamily solar, The Environmental Justice Imperative for Clean Energy Investment, brought five panelists and moderator Aura Vasquez into a passionate discussion about frontline communities whose members deserve solar for triple bottom line of economically supporting their people, driving sustainability across the planet, and opening doors to employment. General Manager Jan Perry of the L.A. Economic and Workforce Development Department oversaw a talk that was just as passionate about hiring and how affordable housing operators can drive it, during Workforce Development Opportunities through Solar Investments in Affordable Housing. (We were proud to have Adewale OgunBadejo, GRID Alternatives GLA's own workforce development leader, explain the potential for good jobs and the need for smart policies with all his legendary expertise.) Advanced Clean Energy Solutions for Affordable Housing, another event panel, touched upon everything from electric vehicle integration to energy efficiency. GLA Board Member John Marler's work as moderator helped us move towards the inspiring clean energy possibilities over the horizon! And our panel Policy and Financial Solutions to Investing in Solar at Affordable Housing left audience members who work in housing with clear senses for how they could go solar with maximum benefit, listening to panelists from CHPC, Center for Sustainable Energy, Community Corporation of Santa Monica, and Global Green.

Serving as a moderator and a speaker on policy findings was Executive Director JR DeShazo, from UCLA's Luskin Center for Innovation. UCLA Luskin is a prime example of a community partner working with us to drive excitement around regional issues like LEEPS—policy challenges with the potential to open doors for thousands of renters to save $11 million a year. As our organization expands the reach of solar technology and job training into more and more of the L.A. landscape, we're hoping to spark more productive conversations like these. Visit our Flickr here to take a look at some of the great discussions taking place during the inaugural LEEPS' success.

Check out Solar Jobs and Second Chances: Breaking Barriers to Employment for the Formerly Incarcerated, the next LEEPS event, on September 28.