By Carol Tucker
LADWP is preparing to launch a new community solar program that will allow residential customers living in multifamily dwellings (apartments, condominiums, duplexes) to participate in L.A.’s thriving solar economy as well as fix a portion of their electric bill against rising utility costs.
Recognizing that a large segment of the city’s population is unable to benefit from solar power, the LADWP Board of Water and Power Commissioners had approved the pilot program in September 2018. The pilot Shared Solar Program stems from LADWP’s Equity Metrics Data Initiative, which identified the need to expand the benefits of solar to renters as well as improve the geographic solar diversity in Los Angeles, bringing clean energy to more vulnerable communities.
Expected to launch in the first quarter of 2019, the program will bring the economic and environmental benefits of this clean sustainable resource to customers who live in multifamily buildings and cannot participate in traditional solar programs. To broaden the geographic equity of local solar projects, the solar power will come in part from new projects built by LADWP in areas identified as having a lack of installed solar. These include economically disadvantaged communities as well as those designated by the city as “Clean Up Green Up” neighborhoods—Pacoima-Sun Valley in the East San Fernando Valley, Boyle Heights near downtown, and Wilmington in the Harbor area. If green-lighted by the City Council, LADWP expects to launch the program in January 2019.
How It Works
Eligible customers will be able to purchase blocks of solar power—up to 100 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month—at a 10-year fixed rate. LADWP has committed to providing up to 10 megawatts (MW) of solar power under the pilot program. LADWP will build new local solar on rooftops of LADWP and City-owned buildings, parking lots, and other structures. Part of the solar power for the program will also come from a large-scale 90 MW solar project due to be completed in 2019 in the Mojave Desert.
“Los Angeles is already America’s No. 1 Shining City, and now thousands more Angelenos will be able to enjoy the benefits of solar power,” said Mel Levine, president of the LADWP Board of Water and Power Commissioners. “At the same time, the program will help us achieve the Sustainable City pLAn local solar goals and our aggressive renewable energy targets.”
The Shared Solar Pilot Program the first step. LADWP is carving out a reduced rate for Shared Solar to make it affordable for income-qualified and disadvantaged customers. Toward that end, LADWP is working with community partners to obtain external funding, such as grants, to offset the cost of a discounted low-income rate. The Shared Solar program was crafted to be revenue neutral for non-participants, so that the proposed rate covers the cost of procuring, building, operating, and maintaining the solar projects along with program administration.
Shared Solar is part of LADWP’s umbrella of Community Solar Programs. In 2017, LADWP launched the first Community Solar Program, the pilot Solar Rooftop Program (SRP), which also prioritizes customers who reside in areas of low solar penetration.