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LADWP FiT 2nd Tranche Report

07/22/13

  12:15:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 1293 words  
Categories: LADWP, Commercial Solar, Feed-in Tariff

LADWP FiT 2nd Tranche Report

We have reviewed the data coming from LADWP for the results of the second tranche lottery - here is our analysis.

Initial Observations

Our first observation is that for some inexplicable reason, LADWP chose to present the data in Adobe pdf format instead of the Excel spreadsheets used previously.  This made the process of analyzing the data far more tedious than it should have been.  Heads up, DWP, please provide data in a data format.  We have nothing against pdf files but that is not the way to publish this type of data.

Second, there was no Owens Valley data here.  We cannot tell if there were no projects submitted from Owens Valley (there were in the first tranche) but none of these projects come from outside the Los Angeles Basin.

Third, one of these proposed projects was for biogas and not solar!  That proposed project, submitted by MM Lopez Energy LLC, was for a 2.95 MW biogas system in Lake View Terrace.  Unfortunately, the tranche was already oversubscribed by 572 kW by the time their lottery number turned up.  This is a first for the FiT (which theoretically is technology neutral) - all of the proposed projects in the first tranche were for solar.

Collectively, the data released documents a total of 112 proposed solar projects, 63 in the large category (>150 kW) and 49 in the small category (30-150 kW).

Large Project Winners & Losers

While there were a total of 64 projects in the large category, it only took 19 to fully subscribe the 16 MW capacity cap available to large projects, and the last project to make the cut will have to downsize by 263 kW (from its proposed 800 kW) to stay within the cap.  Here are the companies that were successful in the lottery along with the number of successful projects and the total capacity they are authorized to install:

Winners large system LADWP FiT second trancheOnly three companies ended up with more than one project: OM Solar LLC (3 projects), Oakdale Ventures LLC (2) and SunStarter Solar LLC (2).  The largest project appears destined for a warehouse building owned by Forever 21 coming in at just under the program limit of 3 MW.

One non-commercial entity made the list, LA’s Metropolitan Transit District will be installing 350 kW for its Division 13 bus operations center.

Far more numerous, however, were the losing proposals - here they are:

Losers large category LADWP FiT second trancheOne of the first things that jumps out here is the amount of overlap. Each of the companies with multiple unsuccessful project proposals also had at least one project that made the cut.  In particular, OM Solar LLC lost on 9 but was successful on 3, SunStarter Solar LLC lost on 8 but succeeded on 2, Haizenberg Solar LLC lost on 3, succeeded on 1, PLH LLC lost on 2, succeeded on 1, and SunRay Power LLC lost on 2 but succeeded on 1.

On average, the successful projects were somewhat smaller than the ones that missed the cut.  Successful projects averaged 856 kW in size whereas projects that missed the cut were 1,113 kW.

Total proposed capacity was 66.38 MW, or 415% of the available 16 MW.  Interestingly, this compares to 44.3 MW that were proposed in the first tranche - despite a lower energy price, the number of proposed projects increased!

Overall, the average proposed system size was 964 kW.

Small Project Winners & Losers

There were fewer participants in the small category, with a total of 49 projects of which 47 came within the 4 MW capacity cutoff (although the last project to make the cut will have to trim down by 3.3 kW from its proposed 38.7 kW).  Average system size for a successful small project was right in the middle of the allowed range at 85 kW.  The two projects that missed the cut were for 41 and 108 kW.

Here are the winners:

Winners small systems LADWP FiT second trancheSunStarter Solar LLC was the big winner here with 10 successful proposals.  Broadstreet, which finished right behind with 9 selected projects was also the bidder on the two that didn’t make the cut.  Interestingly, the average system size for SunStarter was more than twice that from Broadstreet.

Coming to a Zip Code Near You?

As before, the successful projects are scattered about the Basin.  Here’s a listing by city:

Second tranche proposed systems by cityNot surprisingly, LA itself is the big winner with thirty projects in the city proper reaching nearly 8 MW of installed capacity.  Seventeen other neighborhoods are also participating overall, with North Hollywood capturing the second greatest number of projects (8) while Sunland comes in second for amount of capacity to be installed (3 MW).

Breaking the same data down by zip code shows that the top 10 zip codes account for 28 of the 68 projects (41%) but 15.7 MW of total capacity (77%).

Here is the breakdown by top ten zip codes:

projects by zip code ladwp fit second trancheGreatest capacity is set to occur in 91040 (Sunland) with three projects totaling exactly 3 MW, whereas 91605 (North Hollywood) has the greatest number of projects at seven worth a total capacity of 1.1 MW.

Once again we turned to the folks at batchgeo.com to give this data some visual perspective.  We mapped all of the approved projects by zip code including the size of the project, the project name and the company responsible.  The result is the following map where the different color pins represent the size of the projects accumulated in that zip code.  (Unfortunately they do not allow you to represent size by a larger dot on the map - but hey, its a free system!)

2nd Tranche project map LADWP FiT(Note - if only a few of the markers are displayed, click on the color of the marker in the space below to deselect that data segment and then all of the proposed projects will appear.)

Who Are These Guys?

As with the first tranche, there are a great many specially created entities in the list of company names which makes it harder to know who is actually scheduled to do the work.  For example, there are numerous proposed projects from companies with names like 17000 Ventura, LLC or Luxe Apartments, LLC - not a lot of insight provided there.  Frankly, since the LADWP FiT requirements call for the experience of the installation team as a basis for possible rejection, the published data should identify the installer and not just the project developer.

Here are the top ten companies by capacity of winning proposals:

top ten companies in ladwp fit second trancheOnce again, as in the first tranche, OM Solar is the big winner (they had seven projects worth 5.2 MW back then).  OM Solar is headquartered in Torrance.  SunStarter and Broadstreet Energy were also big players in the first tranche: SunStarter had 6 projects worth 3 MW then and Broadstreet had 4 for 1.3 MW.  Broadstreet is headquartered in Stevenson Ranch.  SunStarter Solar has a residential installation group in LA, but the company behind these projects is Solar Provider Group, headquartered in Toronto.  PLH LLC appears to be a property management company out of Oregon.  Oakdale Ventures LLC is listed as a foreign (i.e., out-of-state) entity with offices in Chatsworth.  Lazben Investments is headquartered in Van Nuys.  Heizenberg Solar LLC filed as a business in California on June 7 and appears to be a Delaware corporation headquartered in Denver. No information could be found about Central Plaza.  SunRay Power LLC appears linked to something called Lakewood Six Solar LLC in New York City.

Lessons Learned

A few take-aways from this second tranche:

  • Data should always be published in Excel or CSV formats - save the pdf files for presentations.
  • Missing from this data is important information about the equipment being used: modules, inverters, and racking should all be made public.
  • Similarly, information about the actual proposed installer should be made public.
  • LADWP is paying too much for large projects given the degree of over-subscription.
  • We need to see follow-up data as these projects move through the pipeline.

We said after the first tranche data was released that it appeared that the program was off to a good start and the results for this second tranche appear to confirm that assessment.  Now we need to see the success rate of these projects actually being developed.

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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