On October 27th, 2011, Environment California held a press conference in Luminalt’s San Francisco warehouse to announce the release of a report on global warming entitled “The Way Forward on Global Warming: Reducing Carbon Pollution Today and Restoring Momentum for Tomorrow by Promoting Clean Energy.” The release of the report coincided with the Solar Foundation’s report showing that California has 1 in 4 solar jobs in the United States. Environment California, a statewide advocacy organization and a leading voice pushing for solar policies in the state, reached out to Luminalt because of our active commitment to workforce development and jobs creation.

The two reports, though different in their approach, highlight the fact that states and local government can continue to lead the way toward solving global warming and wide scale unemployment by embracing clean energy solutions, like solar power, through policy.

Bernadette Del Chiaro of Environment California, renowned environmentalist Hunter Lovins, Claire Hill of Luminalt, and Katie De Carlo of Ella Baker Center’s Green Jobs Campaign all spoke at the event.

Renowned environmentalist Hunter Lovins speaks in the Luminalt warehouse about reducing emissions

Hunter Lovins, President and founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions and one of the country’s leading thinkers about how to shift to a clean energy economy, spoke of the need to transition to a clean energy economy, and how small businesses like Luminalt can make the United States competitive on the international stage. “The public and a growing number of stakeholders strongly support saving energy, shifting to clean power, reducing our oil dependence and reducing air pollution,” said Hunter Lovins. “By first tapping into this support, taking action to reduce emissions in any way we can, and then showing that these solutions work, we will overcome the entrenched opposition of the coal and oil industry and their allies in Congress.”

Luminalt’s installer Monique Washington is one of many to join the solar workforce.

Claire Hill of Luminalt spoke specifically to the role that policy plays in determining the American solar industry, with a special eye to San Francisco’s successes and milestones:

“Since 2004, when Luminalt started, the United States has increased its solar electric capacity eight-fold. Luminalt has hired locally, with a particular commitment to workforce development programs in an effort to engage our community and enact positive change. Despite being a small group of environmentally and socially dedicated individuals, Luminalt has installed more systems in San Francisco than any other solar installer. We are not venture capital backed – we are what happens when good policy works to support small businesses.

Well thought out clean energy policy has already proven to be extremely successful within San Francisco. Just last week, Mayor Lee announced that San Francisco has met numerous environmental targets – emissions are 12% below Kyoto target levels and 78% of city waste is diverted from landfills through an engaged recycling and composting program.

The same thing is happening with solar. Solar installations, which are supported by local, state and federal incentives, have increased astronomically. In the past 3 years, thanks to the GoSolarSF funding program, San Francisco now has 2,500 solar installations. For a city that is 49 square miles, this is phenomenal. At the same time, these funds, coming from the city’s sales of its own Hetch Hetchy electricity, are going to creating local jobs and supporting local businesses. Luminalt is active in workforce development, with 60% of our installation crew coming from a neighborhood green collar jobs training program.

As solar as an industry faces global competition, new policies and funding can be the only response. Early adoption of ambitious policies has made California the nation’s leader in solar energy. Success on the local level can lead to national adoption of good policies, proving the impact that local advocates can have on effecting change. Throwing money at the unemployment problem isn’t the answer – well thought out sustainable decisions must go into developing the United State’s clean tech industries.

Carefully executed policies with sustainable business practices can have a real effect in promoting clean energy and dealing with global warming. Luminalt is only one example of what well done policy can achieve: a thriving locally-owned business with social values and dedication to the environment.”

Bernadette del Chiaro speaks at the press conference announcing the report

“Despite the immense challenge we face to dramatically reduce global warming while simultaneously creating jobs, the work of transforming the American economy with clean energy has already begun,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, director of clean energy programs at Environment California Research & Policy Center. “Thanks to progress at the local level, especially here in the Bay Area, the nation has begun to experience a real shift in how we produce energy and how we create jobs.”