News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.

North Hollywood Apartment Building the First in L.A.'s Solar Program

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa formally launches the city's solar feed-in tariff program, the largest rooftop solar program in the nation, surrounded by members of the CLEAN LA solar coalition.

Los Angeles' recently expanded rooftop solar program kicked off officially on Wednesday morning at a ceremony in North Hollywood, as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other dignitaries flipped the switch to connect the program's first rooftop panels to the L.A. Department of Water and Power's grid.

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The new solar panels, atop the Oxnard Plaza Apartments in the NoHo Arts District, are expected to contribute about 142,000 kilowatt-hours of clean power per year to LADWP's grid. That's the average yearly power consumption of 24 typical Californian households.

"Today, we took a major step forward in creating a clean energy future for Los Angeles by flipping the switch on the first installation to be completed through the LADWP Feed-in Tariff Program -- the largest offered by any city in the nation," said Mayor Villaraigosa in a press release. "The FiT program takes advantage of L.A.'s abundant sunshine to spur new private sector investment that will create jobs and decrease our city's reliance on dirty fossil fuels."

The ceremony was hosted by the mayor along with LADWP General Manager Ronald O. Nichols, L.A. Business Council President Mary Leslie, Communities for a Better Environment's President Bill Gallegos, and solar developer Christian Wentzel. A number of supporters of the LADWP's feed-in tariff program were there to lend support.

"We could not be more pleased to be here today to celebrate this milestone," Nichols said. "It's just the beginning of what we expect to be a long and beneficial public-private partnership. Within the next few years, Angelenos can expect to see thousands of solar panels installed on apartment buildings, warehouses, parking structures, and other rooftops throughout the city."

As part of the first tranche of installations in the program, the Oxnard Plaza array's owners will receive 17 cents per kilowatt hour for power from the panels. That works out to a bit more than $24,000 per year of income from the feed-in tariff.

Nichols called the feed-in tariff program an important step in meeting state mandates that 20 percent of his utility's power be derived from renewable sources by 2020. As the LADWP can currently deliver about 7,200 megawatts of power at peak demand, the 150-megawatt feed-in tariff program, when fully subscribed, would account for about a tenth of that 20 percent.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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