Solar power on rooftops in Los Angeles has nearly quadrupled over the past two years as residents and businesses tap into more of the city’s famous year-round sunshine, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) reported today.
Nearly one year after re-launching the customer-based, net meter solar program, following a five month hiatus to catch up on a backlog of requests for solar incentives, LADWP said participation in the Solar Incentive Program increased dramatically over prior years. LADWP provided incentives for over 22 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic installations in fiscal year 2011/12, compared to 9 MW in 2010/11 and 5 MW in 2009/10.
“We are very pleased that so many of our business and residential customers have been able to benefit from LADWP incentives to go solar,” said Ronald O. Nichols, LADWP General Manager. “Our goal in retooling the program last year was to align the incentive levels with market pricing so that a greater number and diversity of customers could benefit from solar power," Nichols said. “I think the results of the past year have demonstrated we were successful.”
The 22 MW of solar installations supported by LADWP incentives in FY 2011/12 represent nearly 2,000 installation projects in Los Angeles. In FY 2011/12, LADWP also paid an unprecedented level of incentives – over $60 million, double the amount budgeted in the previous year.
LADWP customers have installed 44 MW of solar since 2007, when the Department revised its net meter program to align with the state’s SB 1 “Million Solar Roofs” initiative. Since LADWP first pioneered the net meter program in 1999, customers have installeda total of 54 MW of solar capacity - representing over 5,700 solar installations - and received over $186 million in incentive payments. Click here to view this rapid growth.
“If the pace we are seeing today continues, by this fall, we will exceed 100 MW of net metered solar capacity that is either built or in the queue to be built,” said Aram Benyamin, Senior Assistant General Manager of the LADWP Power System.
The Solar Incentive Program had been placed on temporary hold in April 2011 to address an overrun of applications for incentive funding that was outpacing the available budget by about 3 to 1. The suspension was initiated to catch up with a backlog of applications and solar inspections, revise the incentive levels to better match market pricing, increase customer education to address safety concerns, gain input on improving the program, and identify alternative financing options.
LADWP reopened the program in September 2011 with revised guidelines and incentive levels that are consistent with the SB 1 initiative, better aligned with existing solar markets while providing a reasonable payback period for customers. Even at the reduced levels, LADWP solar incentives remain higher than the state minimum.
The LADWP solar programs continue to experience growing pains as customer participation has accelerated at a pace never before seen in the City of Los Angeles. For example, as of August 22, 2012, confirmed reservations for LADWP’s non-residential (commercial and multi-family) solar incentives reached the limit for the 2012/13 fiscal year, selling out in just 18 minutes. This volume of applications received at one time has resulted in a delay in processing.
LADWP has also seen a similar high volume of applications for residential incentives. The LADWP Solar Group is adding more staff to accelerate processing times to minimize delays related to the unexpected volume of applications. Customers who would like to check on the status of an application should visit www.ladwp.com/solar. Inquiries can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the highly successful Solar Incentive Program, LADWP also recently completed initial evaluation of applications submitted through the new Solar Feed-in Tariff (FiT) pilot Demonstration Program, launched earlier this year.
LADWP received 26 FiT applications for a total of 7 megawatts of proposed solar projects. The applications represented a strong showing of diverse size and location of projects, indicating that the demonstration program is serving its purpose. LADWP expects to enter into FiT contracts with customers participating in the Demonstration Program in October and move forward with implementation of the full 150 megawatt renewable energy program by the end of the calendar year.
To learn more about the LADWP Feed in Tariff Demonstration Program, please visit www.ladwp.com/FiT.