Starting February 1, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will buy solar power developed by customers and other private third parties in a major Solar Feed-in Tariff Program. The 100-megawatt program was approved by the department's Board of Water and Power Commissioners in January, in order to increase renewable energy resources as well as grow the local economy with the development of solar-focused business ventures. The department is rolling out this program on the heels of a similar pilot program that began last spring.
Under the new Feed-in Tariff program, private parties can develop solar power, and other clean energy, projects within the department's service area. They can sell the power to the department, and it will be distributed on the city's power grid. The power projects must start at a minimum 30 kilowatts and go up to 3 megawatts. Every six months, there will be 20 megawatts of solar power capacity open for allocation to qualified projects until the 100 megawatts of the program have been filled. Each allocation period will include a specific amount earmarked for small projects ranging from 30 kilowatts to 150 kilowatts. The Department of Water and Power will offer standard 20-year contracts to participants and purchase the power at a set price; for the first 20-megawatt allocation period, that price will be 17 cents per kilowatt-hour. A tiered price structure will be put in place that will decrease the amount the department pays as more projects participate in the program and contribute more power.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called the commissioners' approval of the program a "major step forward in transitioning to a clean energy future for Los Angeles."
"I'm proud of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Board of Water and Power Commissioners for moving Los Angeles forward to become the largest city in the nation to offer a Feed-in Tariff solar program. The program takes advantage of our abundant sunshine to spur new private-sector investment that will create jobs and decrease our city's reliance on dirty fossil fuels."
Added Ronald O. Nicholas, the department's general manager, "The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is replacing over 70% of its existing energy supply over the next 15 years. Local solar not only increases the level of renewable energy we provide to customers but also helps maintain power reliability as we transition away from coal power."
The 100-megawatt program is expected to run through 2016. The board will discuss a similar 50-megawatt Feed-in Tariff program in March.