A bright future is forecast for Los Angeles' groundbreaking rooftop solar program, according to a recent analysis that also recommends the program should be expanded.
Since June 2013, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has offered customers a Feed-in Tariff (FiT) program called CLEAN LA Solar that allows participants with rooftop solar systems to sell the power they generate back to the Los Angeles utility for use on the grid. The first two phases of the program have provided about 40 megawatts of solar-generated power to the city's homes and businesses.
A recent report by UCLA's Luskin Center for Innovation found that the FiT program will meet its goal of providing 100 MW of solar energy to Los Angeles by 2015. The report estimates that output would provide enough electricity to power more than 21,000 homes each year.
The report found other benefits to the program as well. The cost of the solar-generated power in the CLEAN LA Solar program averages 15 cents per kilowatt hour, which is lower than any other FiT program in the U.S. or Canada. When the program meets its 100MW goal, it will have created more than 2,000 jobs. About $300 million will be invested in the city by businesses involved with the program. Finally, the report states that once the program reaches its goal it can eliminate up to 2.7 million tons of greenhouse gases annually.
Because of these positive results, the UCLA researchers said the contracts in the FiT program should be increased from 20 years to 25, which could help with financing and build awareness of the program.
"The UCLA findings on the FiT program's launch provide the hard economic and environmental data that city officials need to justify expanding the program," said L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz in a statement. "We have the potential to scale this program like no other city in America, and the environmental and economic benefits will be impressive in their size and scope for decades to come."