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A blueprint for lowering emissions at the beach

By Juan Matute, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

A team of students from the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability’s Environmental Science Practicum worked with the City of Hermosa Beach, researching options to decarbonize the community’s electricity supply.

First, students looked at California’s legislatively-mandated Green Tariff Shared Renewables Program, which will allow all customers served by Southern California Edison to purchase 100% renewable electricity starting January 1, 2015. Students also looked at Community Choice Aggregation, a program used by a growing number of cities and counties to supply greater percentages of renewable electricity than provided by the local utility.

The team researched technical constraints that limit the amount of rooftop solar photovoltaic electricity generation on the current grid, as well as the opportunity of smart grid technologies to alleviate these constraints.

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While other students were taking in-class finals, the team presented their findings to the Hermosa Beach City Council on June 10. The team recommended that the City of Hermosa Beach work with other cities to form a Community Choice Aggregation program in the short term, with a long term goal of establishing a municipal utilities district that will make smartgrid upgrades needed to accommodate more rooftop solar generation.

Students Jessi Hampton, Jonathan Ho, Jessica Leigh, David Limjoco, Steven Odom, Francis Villanueva, and Adrian Salazar worked over six months with advisor Juan Matute to complete the report.

This is the second year that students from UCLA worked with the City of Hermosa Beach to research the city’s opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, a student team helped the city define community-wide carbon neutrality and explore what the city could do to achieve those goals. One of the most effective options was to decarbonize the city’s electricity supply, the focus of this year’s project.

The IoES designed the Practicum in Environmental Science to offer students the opportunity to work in small teams, with an instructor, on real-life environmental problems with external clients.  Students gain research and professional development experience while working on cutting-edge sustainability issues in Southern California.  Private and corporate support helps make the program possible.