My wife and I have talked for years about putting solar panels on the roof of our small Valley floor bungalow, at least she has.
It would complement her organic farm in the front yard and her cactus garden in the back yard and make us feel better about ourselves for doing the right thing, she says.
But somebody has to be financially responsible and on this rare occasion it’s my job to point out we would never get our money back because the DWP refuses use AB 811 and legitimate feed-in tariffs that would help amortize the costs in a way that makes financial as well as environmental sense.
You have to understand why the DWP has operated the way it has to understand why it’s efforts to get their hands on billions of dollars in ratepayer money through Measure B and now the mayor’s Plan B for Measure B have failed in the face of massive public resistance.
David Freeman, as general manager of DWP a decade ago, announced the largest solar initiative in U.S. history a decade ago. He squandered tens of millions of dollars on dirty giveaways of the public’s money and 10 years later achieved a negligible amount of rooftop solar.
It was all hot air because the IBEW fought it every inch of the way. The union has only come to support green energy after extorting commitments that thousands of more overpaid jobs would be added to the DWP payroll and its membership roster no matter what the cost to the public.
There are other ways and an online friend of mine Sheila Bowers, who lives both here and in the desert and fought successfully to stop DWP’s wasteful and environmentally destructive Green Path North powerline project, has offered a primer to understanding how we can get green energy at a price that we can afford.
She points to Paul Gipe’s recent report at his website wind-works.org where green energy developments are closely followed and she has been posting in the comments section here intelligent and informed explanations of how we can get solar energy at a price we can afford and create real jobs in the private sector at the same time. If you want to understand the issues involved, read her primer on solar energy:
The truth is that DWP could EASILY hit their 40% FOR FREE if they
weren’t dead set on monopolizing, recentralizing and destabilizing the
grid using remote, destructive Big Solar and Big Wind.
Los Angeles has enough solar insolation to be a NET EXPORTER OF PEAKER
POWER from its rooftops alone, yet the city bakes and sprawls
endlessly, while imperialist adventures to outlying communities waste
time and money.
If LA would simply fund its AB 811 loans (no risk loans because city
takes first lien on property), expand its net metering program and
implement a basic Feed in Tariff (so property owners are PAID fairly
for producing more clean energy than they use), LA could have all the
solar power it needed and then some, at NO NET COST TO RATEPAYERS!!!
This is not funny math, this is simple. Ratepayer generators will net
out the cost of their systems by a combination of offsets (net
metering), amortization of loans (AB 811 is 20 years), and FITs (to
encourage oversizing where it makes sense). They will also see
increased property values immediately without increased property taxes.
Loans cost the city nothing and can even make it a small amount in
interest if it administers funds carefully. Net metering costs the
city nothing because it greatly decreases demand for the most costly
power, and fuel/delivery costs are offset. FITs for the tiny amount of
power produced above that used that is then re-sold at peaker rates
costs virtually nothing.
THIS is what all utilities are afraid we will realize. That we can not
only “green the grid” but that we can stabilize and democratize it
using point of use solutions within our built environment. These
clowns are panicking that we will learn the truth, but they hardly need
worry since the media REFUSES to report on this simple paradigm that
could save the economy, property values, our wilderness and our planet.
It’s horrifying that people are ignoring this!!
We need to push for $250 million/year in AB 811 funding so we can
install efficiency upgrades and solar panels on our homes and
businesses. We need to push for Feed in Tariffs for those who produce
clean power above and beyond what they use. We need to publicize this
FREE and FAIR way to clean our grid, and STOP the destruction of our
beautiful wilderness (Pine Tree Wind and Owens Valley are 2 great
AB811 is not a subsidy, it is a loan program that costs ratepayers
NOTHING. Every MW of clean solar generation installed using an AB811
loan could add to the RPS at NO COST to ratepayers (if RPS is ethically
and realistically calculated). This is in stark contrast to Big Wind,
Big Solar and Big Transmission, which will cost ratepayers a FORTUNE
and destroy our wilderness areas and deplete water sources.
Ratepayer generators should not be penalized for installing solar on
their roofs – it should not be a “sacrifice.” We should be allowed to
net meter to the amount of power we use and to be paid fairly (Feed in
Tariff) for any amount we produce and do not consume. Net metering
costs other ratepayers NOTHING, because it reduces grid congestion and
fuel consumption. So all that clean, local, solar power? FREE. Free
to ratepayer-generators. Free to non-generating ratepayers.
With AB 811 loans, ratepayer generators can zero out their system costs
on an annual basis using net metering and FIT payments, amortized
across 20 years. FIT-purchased power is RESOLD by the DWP for close to
purchase price, and only the tiny incremental costs between resale
price (say, 30 cents for peaker) and FIT paid price (50 cents), and
only for that power above and beyond net metering (say 5% of the gross
solar power produced) is passed on to ratepayers. It will not even
register on utility bills.
The system I propose is cheaper to us than the German system, where
they buy 100% of the power at the premium price (about 80 cents)
instead of net metering first, and it makes rooftop solar within reach
of every single home and business owner in the City who has a sunny
Personally, I don’t have much faith in DWP to handle the city-property
solar affordably or competently, but as long as WE get the programs WE
need, and WE are counted in the RPS calculations as full generators,
rather than as “demand reduction,” the City can do what it wants with
its rooftops as long as the CITY pays for it out of their existing
budget (just like us). They need to get costs down so that energy
savings offsets pay for their rooftop systems, JUST LIKE US.
Firstly, the loan is not “subsidized” by anyone. Money is lent, then
it is repaid with modest interest that covers administration costs. No
subsidies at all. There are dozens of ways to raise the money, from
ARRA funds, muni bonds, private investors, etc. Lots of information
out there on this program already and lots of other counties and cities
are already funding it.
Secondly, most homes will net out (after current rebates and tax
credits) in the under $20K range, unless they are doing massive
retrofits for efficiency upgrades at the same time as PV or unless we
start getting fair payment for producing more power than we need.
Nobody’s going off-grid here, so people can size conservatively.
1BOG is securing pricing in the $6/watt range, before rebates and tax
credits, which should knock another 50-60% off, putting us in the $2 -
$3/watt range after all is said and done. Average homes are installing
3.5 kW systems, which would then net out at about $10,500. Repaid via
AB 811 over 20 years, that’s gonna be $600/year with interest, or
$50/month to produce ~80% of total power. Entire cost will be offset
by reduction in bill (and/or FIT).
2. I am not sure where you get “over 2800 MW” as a 33% RPS in a system
that peaks at 6,000 MW. 33% is the state number. 40% is just a
childish one-upsman number from a grandstanding mayor, but it is still
completely do-able even without ripping off ratepayers and decimating
outlying communities and ecosystems.
Since solar produces generally at peak times, and since 50-55% of the
total power in the city is consumed during those 4-6 peak hours, it
seems all we would need for 33% is just under 2,000 MW, and that
assumes no reduction in energy consumption, which is unlikely if
current trends continue.
If the average home installation is 3.5kW and the average industrial
is, say 25kW, and there are 1.4 million electrical connections in the
DWP system, I feel like it would absolutely be achievable to secure
2,000 MW from private rooftops alone. Don’t forget that LA is a major
industrial center with lots of baking, sprawling, single-story
buildings. If a million of those are homes and apartments, and only
1/3 of them put “average” solar up, we’d have ~1200 MW. If the other
400,000 were business connections and only 20% of them installed a 25
kW system, we would have ~2,000 MW. These are just a few random
And hey, if the City wanted to fund their own panels and contribute to
the RPS just like us, using it’s own offsets to repay itself for the
cost of the panels, like I said, I would be fine, delighted, as long as
the program offers real, human ratepayers a clean, fair shot at
participating, and the City didn’t stick us with the bill both coming
and going. They can play on the same field as us.
Parking lots, brownfields, you name it, they should definitely do it -
on their own dime, for the same reasons we do it, because it’s the
right thing and it makes environmental and economic sense. They should
not do it to strengthen their chokehold over ratepayers and small
communities like Owens Valley. They should not do it as a backdoor tax
to fund City programs. They should not do it to greenwash an otherwise
devastating environmental mess.
3. If you want to complain about the RPS system, and how unreliable
solar will be, that’s not my trip – that’s a political game these guys
play that has nothing to do with what is needed. I could care less if
their soundbyte number is 25%, 80% or 50% – we need to max out the
built environment with efficiency upgrades and point of use generation
before we start slaughtering wilderness – that’s my point and it should
be a no-brainer.
Obviously we need improved storage solutions and load balancing and we
need to keep the gas peakers online so they can jump in – just like
they do now – to compensa
te for shortfalls. But the timing of Big
Solar and local solar production is identical, so rooftops completely
defeat the need for Big Solar and its Big Transmission. Can we agree
3 (again). I think I’ve been pretty clear how I would change the
system. AB811 loans and feed in tariffs. Democratic not monopolistic
ownership of solar and microwind generation. Removal of all caps on
system sizes. Favorable business climate for clean energy
manufacturers and installers. No dead wilderness and species, no water
depletion (geothermal, solar thermal), no SF6-spewing powerlines
(29,000 times more potent GHG than CO2, emitted by powerline
infrastructure), no eminent domain, improved property values,
well-paying local jobs, and healthy open spaces we can all still enjoy.
All for much less cost to us than the current boondoggles they have
planned. That’s all i want. is that too much to ask?