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Kristin Eberhard’s Blog

LADWP approves rooftop solar program

Kristin Eberhard

Posted January 15, 2013

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The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), LA’s hometown utility, just received approval to buy solar power from large rooftop and parking lot owners in the city in what is being billed as the nation’s biggest such program.

The governing board of America’s largest municipal utility on Friday approved a “feed-in-tariff” (FIT) program that is part of a suite of policies Los Angeles and California are pursuing to try to move us toward a cleaner, more diverse power supply that will protect our health and hedge against the risks of dependence on fossil fuels.

In sunny southern California, this program aims to encourage solar development in large rooftops and other urban areas. These are medium size installations. Utility-scale projects usually need more space, and LA’s Solar Incentive Program is aimed at smaller residential rooftops. But large buildings and urban spaces like warehouses, schools, and parking lots offer great solar potential close to the customer, and don’t require new transmission lines. Under the feed-in-tariff program, such LADWP customers with solar equipment can sell solar energy back to the utility for 13-17 cents per kilowatt hour.

The feed-in-tariff initially authorizes adding 100 MW of solar to LA’s grid – enough to power more than 20,000 homes. Buying more local solar from these sites will help LA meet the state’s mandate to get 33 percent of our power from renewables by 2020 (LA currently gets 19 percent from renewables) and will put Angelenos back to work. It will also help LA’s efforts to implement California’s AB 32 Global Warming Solutions Act by reducing carbon pollution that threatens LA with soaring temperatures and unhealthy air.

Last Friday’s vote was the second important move by LADWP in recent months to help pave the way for a transition to clean energy. Earlier, the utility serving almost 4 million customers implemented policy changes to help pursue the cheapest clean energy available: energy efficiency, by implementing a decoupling policy and dedicating $265 million over the next two years to programs that help customers reduce their bills.

These are very encouraging signs that LA’s water and electric utility has seen the light and is showing important leadership when it comes to a clean energy future for California and the rest of the country. Let’s hope others take note and follow LADWP’s lead. 

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Christian RoselundJan 16 2013 04:02 PM

Dear Ms. Eberhard,

While it is great to see this covered, I have a factual correction and some additional information. The program is being implemented in 20 MW allocations every six months, so the first round is 20 MW, not 100 MW. Also, prices degress according to a somewhat irregular schedule to $0.13 per kWh.

On the international scale this program is not very aggressive; 100 MW may seem like a lot to Americans, but over three years is a paltry capacity on the global scale.

Kind regards,

Christian Roselund

christine jiraJan 16 2013 06:58 PM

This is awesome. It's this kind of news that makes me proud to live in California.

Ara PetrosyanJan 19 2013 07:00 PM

This is a great news for many local resident in LA. It will be beneficial for local businesses as well. With this progress residents will expect to be paying about 30% lower bills on electricity within next 5 years.

Kristin EberhardJan 19 2013 11:53 PM

Thanks for the corrections, Christian. i updated the blog to clarify that the 100 MW is not the first "round" as I had originally phrased it, but the initial total program (and our hope is that there will be more in future), and to reflect the range of prices from 13-17 cents.

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