Vote Solar staff attended meetings last week with staff of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), the nation’s largest publicly-owned utility, serving about 10% of California’s electrical load. California law now requires munis like LADWP to get 33% of their power mix from renewables by 2020, prompting a big increase from LADWP’s current 20 percent. The utility’s Board of Commissioners officially adopted a program for getting to 33% renewables recently, but staff noted that many of the important decisions will actually get made in the utility’s 2012 Integrated Resource Planning process.
Via the IRP, the utility will analyze a range of different 20-year planning scenarios, choose one of those scenarios as its preferred long-term plan for serving its customers, and request rate increases from the LA City Council as needed to allow funding for that path. LADWP currently gets only 1% of its renewables from solar (wind and small hydro forms the bulk of its clean energy portfolio), but staff indicated a plan to ramp up investment in utility-scale solar considerably, given solar’s ability to locate in urban areas and to provide generation at times of highest demand. In the new year, Vote Solar will work to highlight the value of solar where the rubber meets the road in LADWP’s IRP process.
In other recent LA news, the LA Business Council recently released a report showing that LADWP lags behind most other California utilities on distributed solar – for example, Southern California Edison has more than six times as much distributed solar installed per customer as LADWP. The utility made a step in the right direction this week, however, presenting a plan to implement a 75 MW feed-in tariff program by the end of 2013 and a 150 MW program by 2016, assuming it can get the necessary funding from City Council. We think the utility should move beyond that 150 MW goal, installing at least 600 MW of distributed solar in the next ten years, at the same time creating a valuable new engine for jobs.
Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.