Solar Power Your Condominium

Is your electricity bill climbing?  Many people who are now working at home and generally staying in more are paying more these days.  Help is available if your utility payments are outside of your budget. For others, rising electricity costs may signal that it’s a good time to install solar power.

If you live in a condominium and would like to install rooftop solar but always assumed it would be too difficult, you’re in luck. Installing solar at condo building is easier now thanks to changes in laws that govern condominium buildings.  These changes were explored at a Lunch and Learn webinar recently hosted by Climate Action Santa Monica and the City of Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and Environment. 

Watch the full lunch and learn webinar on Solar for Condos

In the webinar, local real estate attorney and condo law expert, Paul DeSantis, digs into the revised laws as well as the process for getting solar panels installed on a condominium building.  Significantly, two-thirds of condo owners are no longer needed to move forward with a solar project. Insurability and financing are also improved. Paul observes that a single condo owner can now move the process along fairly quickly, while laying a path for other condo owners to install solar as well.

Drew Johnstone, Senior Sustainability Analyst for the City of Santa Monica, provides an overview of solar how it works, how it’s installed and what to expect from your new bill. He also reviews the site conditions required for solar installation and addresses how different types of condominium buildings can lay out a rooftop solar system.

Laurene von Klan, CASM’s co-chair has been heading up the CASM solar program. CASM is working with the city on this project because Santa Monica has huge rooftop solar potential.  She hopes that the new laws can jump start a wave of solar power installations in the city. “We have so many flat roofs on multi-unit buildings and so much sun. Solar power is a natural, do-able way for Santa Monica to generate results for the climate.”

Support is being provided to help interested condominium owners determine if solar power is suited for them and their building.

If you are interested in learning more please email You will receive a checklist that will help evaluate your solar potential.  If solar is feasible on your building, a second screening and assistance with layout of a system will provided.

What if you live in an apartment and rent your home? Renewable energy is available to you, too. You can receive 100% renewable energy through the Clean Power Alliance.  And there are other steps you can take to lower your energy carbon footprint. Please check out Renewable Energy Resources for Renters.

CASM Joins LA Climate Strike with Greta Thunberg

On Friday, November 1, 2019, members of CASM and thousands of Los Angelenos and Santa Monicans gathered at LA City Hall to strike for the Climate Emergency as part of a larger series of Friday strikes by young people around the globe, ditching classes and work for the sake of the planet for a movement known as Fridays for Future.

This Friday’s march focused primarily on the oil and gas industry that is heavily prevalent and influential here in Los Angeles. We gathered and marched to Governor Gavin Newsom’s LA office demanding that the Governor begin to act on behalf of the people and planet instead of continuing business as usual favoring profits and big fossil fuel corporations.

Specifically, according to a press release the strike was organized to “uplift three core demands for Governor Newsom around California’s fossil fuel production”:

  • Roll out a 2,500-foot health and safety buffer to protect frontline communities;
  • Stop issuing any new fossil fuel permits to protect our climate future; and
  • Drop existing oil production with a just transition to a clean energy economy.

The group was joined by the original Fridays for Future Climate Striker, 16-year old Swedish Activist, Greta Thunberg, who’s been here in the United States since September inspiring the youth of North America to wake up, rise up and make sure their voices are heard by those in power, that the time to combat the climate crisis is NOW. There is no time to waste.

The march was followed up by a number of our leading local young activists as well as Thunberg. Their messages were inspired, authentic, and empowering. They shared horror stories of the adverse health consequences affecting them and our local communities forced to live in proximity to oil fields, refineries, and congested freeways. They also shared stories of triumph where our local government has stepped in to put the welfare of the people first and curb polluting corporations. Finally, they instilled hope, reminding us that we have the power when we come together in large numbers to have our voices heard, when we get out and VOTE to put the right people in office, and finally in our everyday choices and actions. We always have the power to make a choice to ride a bike instead of drive, choose beans over beef, and refuse to buy goods wrapped in plastic.

Group shot of all the speakers

Combating the climate crisis will require action from every single one of us. We at Climate Action Santa Monica believe that together we can save humanity and the planet, especially if we continue to support and uplift the efforts of our younger generation. They are the future.

Here are some of our favorite photos captured during the event.

Photo credit:

Jobs for the Future: SMC Trains a Green-Tech Workforce

As part of the National Solar Open House on October 5th, Santa Monica College’s Sustainable Technologies Program opened its doors to the public for an inside look at the campus’s solar installations and its award-winning sustainable technology learning facilities. 

Climate Action Santa Monica (CASM) Steering Committee members got a tour of the large-scale solar power installation on a 10,000 square foot city-owned office on the airport property.  Hundreds of solar panels cover the roof of the building and generate 53,000 watts of electricity, enough to fully power all the offices.

Solar-powered office building just east of the Museum of Flying on Airport Avenue

This is an example of the numerous facilities that are being planned to meet Santa Monica’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.  Implementation of the city’s Climate Action and Adaption Plan (CAAP) will require a growing workforce to fulfill this critical mission. Learn more about CAAP.  

SMC renewable energy professor Stuart Cooley in the lab of the school’s Sustainable Technologies Program.

This is where SMC’s nationally recognized Sustainable Technologies Program comes in.  It was launched in response to this rapidly expanding need for skilled workers in the green jobs sector. The program provides students with topflight training for employment in solar energy, recycling, resource management, energy efficiency, public policy, and other sustainability-oriented fields. 

Learn more about SMC’s Sustainable Technologies offerings or contact Stuart Cooley at or call (310) 434-8721.

Photo credit:
Photo credit: SMC students performing a public installation at the Dept. of Energy’s Sunshot Conference.

Things to Know About Natural Gas in Santa Monica

Santa Monica, and many other cities, are moving away from natural gas because of the climate crisis. Using gas to make electricity or to heat homes is more polluting than doing so with solar or wind. It is estimated that natural gas (methane) is roughly 30 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas than carbon.

The City of Santa Monica recently amended its building code to favor electricity over gas in new construction. Recognizing that natural gas is a fuel preferred by some and a part of our existing energy supply system, the City is providing a pathway that will allow natural gas to continue to be used, in exchange for other energy efficiencies. It is hoped that natural gas usage will gradually decline. This is a positive step. Climate Action Santa Monica supported the city’s plans and offered suggestions for additional measures.

At recent City Council hearings on this issue, our local gas company, SoCal Gas, made the case that gas is a vital part hour energy infrastructure moving forward, and that the city should plan for ongoing use of gas and developing renewable natural gas. Some of their arguments made sense. Solar and other renewables have, for the time being, some limitations. There just aren’t enough batteries for storing the solar power generated during the day so that it can be used at night. Sometimes there is not enough solar, wind power, or other forms of renewable energy available to meet peak demand, for example on extremely hot days when everyone is running air conditioning. So, for the time being, it looks like we are committed to continued use of natural gas, with the hope that our reliance will decrease over time.

Are we fully aware of the risks that come with our continued commitment to gas?

We should be.

A report by the California Council on Science and Technology states that a nearby natural gas storage facility, in Playa del Rey, is problematic. It has a history of gas leaks, and industrial scale gas leaks can be particularly harmful to our climate. In addition, the report states the facility “located near a large population center in a very high wildfire hazard zone, stands out as a facility with relatively higher risk to health and safety than the other facilities in California. Aliso Canyon, Honor Rancho, and La Goleta also present higher health and safety risks than other facilities because of their locations near large numbers of people.”

Several groups have recently begun to call for closure of the Playa Del Rey facility, making us all more aware of the full cost associated with continued use of our natural gas infrastructure. Legislation has been introduced to investigate the facility and its compliance with local health and safety rules.

We do not have a lot of choice in who provides our gas. But we can, for the safety of our children, friends, and family, and for the health of the planet, be vocal and conscientious consumers. We can question why this gas storage facility is so problematic. We can go electric when it’s time to replace a home furnace, clothes dryer, stove, or car. We can install solar panels on our homes, or ask our landlord or homeowners group to consider it. We can let our elected officials know that we support taking action to move away from gas and provide more safer renewable electricity. If we do so, perhaps one day we will no longer need to have troublesome gas storage in our backyard.

Thinking about going electric?

Check out new electric cars and other technologies at Alt Car Expo in Santa Monica on November 2!

National Solar Tours Coming to Santa Monica

Do you have solar? Does it work for you? Don’t have solar but curious to learn more?

The National Solar Tour is October 5th and 6th, and Climate Action Santa Monica is looking for people in Santa Monica to sign up and show off their solar systems. This is an opportunity for people who are curious about the potential of solar and want to know what it is really like to live with solar power.    

Research shows that people are more likely to get solar when their neighbors have it. Solar power figures prominently into the City of Santa Monica’s Climate Adaptation Plan. It is also considered one of the top solutions to the climate crisis globally.  Even better, for many homeowners it makes financial sense. It creates local jobs, too.   

Interested? Please contact and learn more about the event

If you don’t have solar but want to learn more, you can visit a home on the solar tour and ask a real user (not a sales person) about their experience. 

And what if you live in a multi-unit building? New laws make solar for condos more feasible and pilot programs are being run to investigate ways to bring solar to multi-unit buildings of all kinds. Advocates are always needed to shift laws and regulations so that solar is available and affordable to EVERYONE! Find out more by emailing