A new study by UCLA's Luskin Center for Innovation and the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) for the Los Angeles Business Council, Los Angeles Solar: Now and into the Future, found that the city could have the largest local solar program in the country. However, the study found that there are needless delays in its solar programs.
The said that expanding and improving its existing solar incentives, which include: net-metering, feed-in tariff (FiT) and its Community Solar Initiative, could allow it to reach its solar goals. However, the report found that LADWP has authorized 100 megawatts of solar power under its FiT program, but only 6.5 megawatts of the authorized amount is actually online.
“Another 8.2 megawatts of projects are under contract and awaiting construction, with another 56 megawatts in the contracting stage,” according to study findings. The authors said that to implement the plan properly LADWP must build its staff resources and streamline its application and installation processes.
"LADWP needs to staff up in order to fulfill the promise of the FiT program and meet the high priority placed on the program by Mayor Garcetti, the City Council and the Board of DWP Commissioners," said J.R. De Shazo, director at UCLA's Luskin Center, one of the report authors. "Los Angeles has the right amount of sun, available rooftops, trained workers and financing options. Adequate staffing at LADWP is the missing piece of the puzzle, and it needs to be put in place if Los Angeles is going to go reach its solar potential."
Fixing the issues surrounding the the FiT program and other solar programs are significant for LADWP since it has imposed a deadline of 2025 to phase out its use of coal-fired power plants, which currently provide 42 percent of its generation.
"Los Angeles has a unique confluence of characteristics providing a firm foundation for a successful solar FiT program: abundant sunshine, a trained workforce and tremendous economic need," said Dr. Manuel Pastor, Director of the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity. "Growing the FiT will bring economic opportunity to some of our city's most underserved and environmentally-challenged neighborhoods. There's no question that the FiT can advance solar-related equity goals where they're needed most."
LADWP has made some progress on the issues. The report found that project wait times fell to an average of 182 days (half a year) from an average of 425 days largely because of a new online application and permitting system. Another factor in reducing lead times is waiving certain insurance requirements and changes to standard contracts.
To help speed development of solar in the region the Los Angeles Business Council launched the site (http://solar.labcinstitute.org) to connect solar and community developers with building owners. The council said the site lists 7,000 properties ready for rooftop solar. "We know how important the list of potential properties was to identifying projects during the launch phase of the FiT," said LABC President Mary Leslie. "We've taken that list to the next level to provide an online marketplace that will facilitate the expansion of the FiT that we know is possible. LABC is confident that the online listing will spur additional solar investment by posting the most opportune sites in the City of Los Angeles."Tweet