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Caltech and JPL join L.A.'s Clean Tech alliance

UCLA and USC are already involved in the project, aimed at making L.A. a leader in a green economy.

July 21, 2009|Phil Willon

Caltech and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Monday officially joined Los Angeles' effort to create a clean technology business and research corridor along the Los Angeles River.

The city hopes to tap JPL's scientific expertise in climate change and environmental engineering to help pinpoint new alternative energy resources and better manage the city's water supplies.

The work will include hunting for new sources of geothermal energy and measuring the snowpack in the Eastern Sierra Nevada.

JPL, which is operated by Caltech in Pasadena, joins UCLA and USC in the city's Clean Tech alliance that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said will be devoted to clean technology research, luring companies that will "make L.A. the capital of the new green economy."

The involvement of the three universities also will put L.A. in a better position to compete for hundreds of thousands of federal dollars for clean technology research and for a proposed state institute to study climate change.

Villaraigosa said the alliance is a critical component in his goal to end the Department of Water and Power's reliance on coal-fired power plants and secure 40% of its power from renewable resources by 2020, up from his previous goal of 35%.

The research laboratories will be housed in a DWP warehouse overlooking the river.

In the basement of the building, UCLA plans to build a wind tunnel testing facility; USC is exploring the site for use as an institute for the study of ways to make data centers more energy-efficient. Caltech and JPL will help the DWP better measure snowpack in the Eastern Sierra and dust in the Owens Valley.

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phil.willon@latimes.com

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