Rooftop, Solar

Video: LABC Wants Solar for the City of Los Angeles; Recommends a FIT

The Los Angeles Business Council (LABC) has made the adoption of solar energy a high priority for the city, creating a program aimed at boosting the installation of clean energy across the city of LA. Should the program be fully adopted, up to 300 megawatts (MW) of solar power could be installed within city boundaries in the next 5-10 years.

Within the city limits, it is easier and less expensive to harness great quantities of solar power from multifamily roofs than from single-family homes or smaller commercial rooftops according to the report, Making a Market: Multifamily Rooftop Solar and Social Equity in Los Angeles. The council says that based on an extensive property survey, many of the rooftops with the greatest solar power are found in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods of the city, the same population that could benefit the most from reduced power bills. 

This “social equity” aspect is an important one to the council. Researchers from UCLA and USC, working in collaboration with the LABC Institute and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, sought to determine whether the benefits of a rooftop solar energy program could be brought to low-income residents of Los Angeles and as it turns out, they can.

The council is recommending that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), the city’s utility, implement a feed-in tariff (FIT) to encourage solar adoption through an initiative, called CLEAN LA (Clean Local Energy Accessible Now). CLEAN LA hopes to enact a 10-year, 600-MW FIT program with a 75-MW pilot program in place by 2014 (as mandated by state law SB 32), and at least 150 MW by 2016.

In the case of multifamily apartment buildings, the council recommends a FIT rate of 24 to 26 cents per kilowatt-hour for power that is fed back into the utility’s grid.

Previous research by UCLA and the LABC, has shown that a citywide 150-megawatt solar program on commercial and residential rooftops would generate $500 million in local investment, create thousands of quality jobs, and have an impact of as little as 19 cents a month for the average residential customer.

The video below explains more about the program and talks with key stakeholders in the project.