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LA DWP will reduce residential solar incentives beginning in 2011

Solarpanel L.A. residents who are considering installing solar panels have an incentive to act before the end of the year: On Tuesday, the city's Board of Water and Power Commissioners approved changes to the Solar Incentive Program that will reduce rebates starting Jan. 1.

The Department of Water and Power's present rebate is $3.24 for every watt installed. A 4-kilowatt system, for example, would receive a $12,960 rebate.

In 2011, that rate will decline to $2.20. That same 4-kilowatt system will see its rebate drop to $8,800 come Jan. 1.

Further reductions -- to $1.50 per watt and, ultimately, to 60 cents -- will roll out as time passes and the utility meets goals for home-generated electricity.

The DWP has been deluged with applications for residential solar rebates since 2009, when the
U.S. Emergency Economic Stabilization Act kicked in, replacing a $2,000 federal tax credit cap with a dollar amount equal to 30% of the installation cost. The average residential solar system costs between $35,000 and $40,000.

L.A. homes generate 22 megawatts each year, far less than 1% of the 25,000 gigawatt-hours used in the city annually.In 2007, California Senate Bill 1 set $318 million as the amount that the DWP should allocate to help homeowners pay for solar installation through 2016. The DWP budgeted $30 million annually to residential solar rebates, but this year's applications have pushed the rebate requests to as much as $70 million. The utility's decision to decrease the rebate rate beginning 2011 is an attempt to stretch the program's funds through 2016.

-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: A solar panel. Credit: Maurice Tsai / Bloomberg


Comments () | Archives (6)

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The DWP has been inundated with requests for residential solar rebates from 2009, when the U.S. Law Emergency Economic Stabilization come into play in place of a credit ceiling of $ 2.000 federal tax in an amount equal to 30% of the cost of installation.

Dear LAT: MW != MWh, that is, power and energy are not the same thing.

The blog is really nice one and full of information we appreciate the kind of information you have provided in this post. The information are so useful for all of us and we would like to thank you from the bottom of our heart for this wonderful information.

I think this money-saving idea is a good thing. It only makes sense to offer an incentive IF requests are low or are slow in coming in. I say, keep lowering the amount. If the requests for rebates keep coming in at a fast pace, temporarily suspend the program in order to reduce the number of applicants requesting rebates. If requests continue to come in after this, then, it should be okay to stop offering rebates altogether.

Centralized (large-scale) solar is less expensive than rooftop PV for the utility. While rooftop PV is generated at the highest "worth" point in the system, its cost per watt is too still too high to make it a competitive value and the cost to the DWP to MANAGE that energy properly (ie reliably and safely), especially when 10,000 rooftops have it (imagine now 100,000 rooftops) is expensive as well.

If DWP and LA are sincere, the Mayor's solar plan is a proper balance of rooftop, mid, and large-scale and involves the private sector and utility owned MW's in various ways. A pretty good roadmap IMHO. But no regardless, solar is a lot more expensive than traditional gen.

Part of the true cost is that in order to maintain reliability, utilities can not put in a solar (or wind) MW and rely on it. LADWP must still ensure that it can deliver all of the energy necessary even on a hot, muggy, and overcast day or night (ie very little solar and wind). This means it:

1. Must maintain the existing, aging, system
2. Must ensure that every renewable MW is backed up by instantaneously ready generation which meets all modern regulatory requirements
3. Install new operational systems and capabilities to properly run the system with this large renewable contingency.

These are costs that are never publicly applied to solar and wind and if they were, these true costs would be 50% higher than what is talked about today.

While renewables are an admirable objective, ideological politics has suppressed the true cost. Only when the residents of LA are fully informed will the "mystery" of relative inaction in renewables be understood.

DWP needs to re-allocate funds from their Imperialist programs to destroy more of the Owens Valley for Big Solar into incentives and feed in tariffs for local, point of use solar power production (like rooftop), which is much cleaner, faster and cheaper.

WE own DWP and WE want to own the solar power. LA Business Council and UCLA Luskin Center already proved that a generous rooftop solar feed in tariff would REDUCE ENERGY BILLS FOR ALL OF US, so it is very curious why DWP has ignored that option, and instead keeps pushing for overpriced, destructive monopoly power. Smells like a Big Energy move to me.

There's no longer any question. Rooftop solar, efficiency upgrades, passive heating/cooling and other point of use solutions within the built environment are the ONLY solution to our economic, jobs, environmental and property value problems.

Let's get moving, DWP!


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