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LADWP Solar Rebate Program on Hold

05/07/11

  11:48:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 340 words  
Categories: Solar Economics, LADWP Rebates, LADWP

LADWP Solar Rebate Program on Hold

Effective April 8, LADWP suspended its solar rebate program and will not accept any new rebate applications for at least 90 days. We have written before about the tumult at LADWP over its solar rebate program, noting that in many ways it was a victim of its own success.  Now they are confirming as much, pointing out that over the past twelve years the utility has dispensed more than $117 million in rebates and presently has over 2,000 rebate requests in process.  If all of those requests were to ripen into installed systems, they would exceed the utility’s rebate budget many times over.

Thus the decision to bring the program to a full stop while a change to the program is devised.  Which begs the question - how will the new program differ from its predecessor?  The most rational change would be to scrap the rebate program altogether and replace it with a feed-in tariff by which the utility pays the solar system owner for every kilowatt hour produced.  The benefit to LADWP is obvious and immediate - they do not have to make large, lump-sum payments to owners when the system is commissioned.  Instead, the utility pays only as the energy is actually generated which provides owners and installers with an incentive to insure that systems perform as advertised.

There are benefits to the system owner as well, including a higher overall compensation rate and a long-term guaranteed income stream.  After all, this is what they did in Germany and turned that sun-starved state into the largest solar market in the world.  Surely we could do the same - or better - here in sunny Southern California?

Unfortunately, the recent history of solar programs with the local muni utilities (with the notable exception of Pasadena Water and Power) has been very disappointing as rebates come and go at the whim of unelected bureaucrats.  It is hard to argue with LADWP’s need to get its program in order - hopefully they will take this opportunity to get it right.  You can phone them at: (213) 367-4122 or email them at: solar@ladwp.com.

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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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