Solar in Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles, CA, located in Southern California along the Pacific Ocean, is the most populous city in California and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City, with a 2010 population of over 3.7 million. Los Angeles is located on a land area of approximately 468 square miles and is the focal point of the larger Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside combined statistical area, which contains nearly 17.8 million people and which is one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world and the second largest in the United States.
With such a large area, Los Angeles is also home to the nation’s largest municipal utility, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), which provides the region almost half of its electricity. Unfortunately for clean air advocates, almost 40% of LADWP’s electricity comes from dirty coal-fired plants.
Now, the good news for clean air advocates is that Los Angeles solar currently ranks 2nd in California for the number of home solar installations and that number is expected to grow. This makes sense as Los Angeles County gets more sun than any other county in Southern California….approximately 300 days of sunshine a year!
Above and beyond this is that much of the growth of solar in Los Angeles was due to a LADWP solar rebate program that ran out of money much faster than anyone thought or intended. The LADWP solar program initially began with around $30 million to provide rebates to homeowners and businesses to install solar on their rooftops. However, the program was inundated with approximately $112 million in requests prompting the city to shut the program down in April of 2011. Fortunately, LADWP has elected to restart its solar rebate program with $60 million in funding handing our rebates that are more closely aligned to the measured approach of the California Solar Initiative. The goal is to have this program last much longer than before and match the trajectory of increased demand as the cost of solar declines. All in all, good news for solar in Los Angeles.