L.A.'s Rooftop Solar Plan Is Cloudy With a Chance of Audits

It would be hard to find a better place in the world than Los Angeles for rooftop solar panels. We have rooftops and we have sun. What could go wrong?

Well, leave it to the DWP to screw it up. Three years after the city-owned utility launched a 150-megawatt rooftop solar program, only 6.5 megawatts have been installed.

A new report released today argues that the DWP needs to pick up the pace. Among other issues, the study found that the DWP has hired only three people to administer the program, although 30 positions were allocated in the 2013 budget.

The utility's "feed-in tariff" allows businesses and homeowners to install solar panels and sell the power to the DWP. Since it launched, customers have struggled with long wait times for the permits needed to connect solar panels to the power grid.

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The report, commissioned by the L.A. Business Council, notes that the DWP has taken some steps to streamline the application process. But it argues that more needs to be done.

One of the problems is a high rate of project cancellations. The report suggests reorganizing the review process based on viability, rather than taking applications on a first-come, first-served basis.

When he was a candidate, Mayor Eric Garcetti pledged to expand the program to 600 megawatts, as part of his plan to create 20,000 green jobs. At this point, that's looking pretty optimistic.

The report will be discussed today at a policy roundtable including council members and DWP executives.


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