As expected, the Glendale City Council yesterday voted to approve a Feed-in Tariff program patterned after programs that have failed. Here's our final report, for now.
One clear tell that the FiT proposed by GWP was a non-issue: no other solar company bothered to comment on it before the City Council. As for the City Council itself, another tell - two of the five Councilmembers were participating via Skype and phone - but they both bailed after voting on the City's budget but before the FiT came up for a vote.
Which left only me.
For the second week in a row, I was the only speaker to address the FiT. I pointed out to the Council the failure of the programs in Anaheim and Riverside - the models for the GWP program - to yield a single solar installation in more than two years. I reminded them of what we were told by the woman in Anaheim - that there is a difference between designing a program to meet the letter of the law and designing a program that works. I acknowledged that they were going to pass the ordinance, because they had been told that they had no choice - they were stuck with buying a pig in a poke. I encouraged them to revisit the issue in three months. If GWP was correct, and their program was destined for greatness, we would certainly know by then - but if I was right, perhaps it would be proper to revisit this program and try to design one that would actually work.
That argument received some traction with the Council - and I have already set the reminder for three months from now to revisit this with the Council. (Ironically, if you are speaking about something that is not on the agenda, they give you 5 minutes to speak, but for actual business before the Council, they only give you two. So when I return in September I will actually be able to layout my case in some detail!)
Once again, Councilmember Ontero picked up on what I said and asked Staff whether they had, indeed, designed a program that could only meet the letter of the law but not actually accomplish anything. And again, GWP's Chief Assistant General Manager, Steve Lins responded but did not actually answer the question. Instead he brought up LADWP's Ratepayer Advocate as complaining that LADWP was overpaying (an old argument that was rejected twice - by the LADWP Board and by the LA City Council).
Beyond that, Mr. Lins insisted that my complaints were that "my project" didn't pencil out and that was why I was complaining. Of course Mr. Lins knows nothing about my motivations so his speculation was unjustified. For the record (since Council rules did not afford me an opportunity to respond), Run on Sun did not have a client that we were representing here - we were simply advocating for sound public policy in support of solar.
So the program is now adopted and we will wait and see how this plays out.
Glendale Water and Power has started holding public workshops on its proposed rate increase - though still remaining mum about their mandated Feed-in Tariff program. Here’s an update.
As we reported before, GWP is poised to impose a rate increase over the next five years in excess of 24%. The first two of six scheduled public meetings to discuss the rate increase were held on Wednesday and Thursday and GWP posted their presentation materials from those meetings online. Here are some of the highlights from those materials:
Of course, in any systemwide rate increase like this, some customers will fare better than others. So who are the winners and losers? This chart is pretty definitive:
In each and every year of this five-year rate increase, residential customers are seeing higher rate increases than any other class of customer in Glendale! They aren’t looking at a 24% rate increase, their rate increase is 26.4% or 5.28%/year. In contrast, small commercial customers who do not exceed the threshold for demand charges (i.e., peak demand less than 30 kW) are seeing the smallest increases. (GWP’s spokesperson asserted that this result is mandated by Proposition 26.)
Unfortunately, there is nothing in the presentation about the reinstitution of GWP’s solar rebate program, and the GWP website simply advises customers to “check back again after July 2013." Of course, it would be more useful if GWP published its plans for that program - along with the FiT - and allowed the public time to comment and possibly improve the program.
At present, that doesn’t seem to be happening in Glendale.
So electric customers of GWP are going to see their rates increase substantially - albeit from a relatively low base at present - and the most effective tool that they could have to counter those increases, adding solar, remains in limbo.
“It’s been a long, time coming…” and we are just now starting to get some details about the state-mandated Feed-in Tariff program for Glendale Water & Power (GWP). While there is more unknown than known, here’s an update on what we have learned so far.
Will GWP’s FiT Actually Support PV Like This?
As we have reported previously, GWP is under a state-law mandate to offer a solar Feed-in Tariff (FiT) program by July 1, 2013 - some 33 days from today. Keeping in mind that it took LADWP the better part of three years to design and approve its FiT does not fill one with confidence that GWP can go from having nothing in writing to distribute to the public to a successful program start in just 33 days. (Of course, the law only requires that a program be “offered” - it says nothing about whether that program is designed in a way that gives it any chance of being successful.)
Despite having been told that public workshops would be held during May and June, it is clear that at least the May dates have gone by the board. With the clock ticking, and nothing new on the GWP website about its FiT, we started combing the Glendale website for possible hints in the posted agendas for either the Water & Power Commission or the City Council - no luck. So we decided to call the City Clerk’s office, because in any city, the City Clerk is the one person guaranteed to know what is going on.
We spoke with Michael Dunn who gave his title as Secretary to the City Clerk. He informed us that indeed the FiT is scheduled to be considered by the City Council for the first time on June 18, with the second reading (and presumed adoption) one week later on June 25. He also informed us that the Agenda, complete with downloadable materials, should be available to the public on June 13. (You can access the Agendas for the Glendale City Council here.) Of course, a first disclosure of a program as complicated as a FiT just 17 days before its state-mandated go-live date does not suggest that Glendale or GWP actually wants any input from the public. Rather, this is a schedule that suggests that any public comment is entirely pro forma and whatever is put forward by GWP is what the Council will adopt. (No doubt citing the state-mandated deadline as justification for taking the proposal “as-is." Classic.)
Unfortunately, Mr. Dunn knew nothing more about the FiT himself, but he offered to send me to someone at GWP who might be able to answer more of my questions. He transferred me to Victor Pacheco who gave his title as Senior Electric Service Planner. Mr. Pacheco told us that the program would be offered for projects between 30 kW and 1.4 MW capacity and that the program was limited to 4.5 MW total. He was unable to tell us anything more about the remaining details of the program, such as the base price for energy to be offered, or whether time of delivery factors would be applied, or whether there would be any carve-out from the 4.5 MW total for smaller sized systems (as there is in Los Angeles).
He was able to tell us that a FiT Manager was going to be selected (apparently from existing staff) but no such appointment was yet in place. Well, not like there’s any urgency here - after all, you still have 30+ days to figure this out - what could possibly go wrong?
As for public meetings to discuss the FiT, he was unaware of any and the only public meetings alluded to on GWP’s website concern their five-year, 24% proposed rate increase. While the FiT is apparently bundled into that rate ordinance, it just doesn’t make sense to try and combine the two into the same public meeting.
As always, we will update this post as we learn more information.
We have just learned that Glendale Water and Power (GWP) is proposing some significant rate increases over the next five years with a Council vote tentatively set for August.
GWP’s proposed rate increase breaks down as follows:
Put that all together and you are looking at a 24% rate increase over the next five years, or 4.8% per year. (By way of comparison, we generally assume a 4.5%/year rate increase for municipal utilities and 5.7%/year for SCE when we do our Return on Investment modeling.)
GWP is proposing to hold a series of public meetings during June to discuss these new rates. From the GWP website, here is the presently scheduled set of meeting dates:
Unfortunately, at present the GWP solar program for both residential and commercial customers is “not available,” with the website advising interested residential customers to “check back again after July 2013,” but simply telling commercial customers that the “program is currently not available.”
Faced with a substantial rate increase - with 63% of that increase coming in the next two years - GWP customers should have the option to Go Solar NOW! Hopefully the process that implements these new rates will also provide some assistance for GWP customers who wish to do just that - we will keep you posted.
UPDATE - The GWP website is now displaying tables that layout the anticipated rebate rates for the next three years. These tables, contrary to what we were told by GWP - but consistent with what we reported regarding the ordinance passed by the Glendale City Council - indicates clearly that systems larger than 30 kW (nameplate) are eligible for rebates and those rebates will be paid as a PBI rebate - not an EPBB rebate.
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