Effective April 8, LADWP suspended its solar rebate program and willnot accept any new rebate applications for at least 90 days. We havewritten before about the tumult at LADWP over its solar rebate program, noting that in many ways it was a victim of its own success. Now theyare confirming as much, pointing out that over the past twelve years the utility has dispensed more than $117 million in rebates and presentlyhas over 2,000 rebate requests in process. If all of those requestswere to ripen into installed systems, they would exceed the utility’srebate budget many times over.
Thus the decision to bring the program to a full stop while a changeto the program is devised. Which begs the question – how will the newprogram differ from its predecessor? The most rational change would beto scrap the rebate program altogether and replace it with a feed-intariff by which the utility pays the solar system owner for everykilowatt hour produced. The benefit to LADWP is obvious and immediate – they do not have to make large, lump-sum payments to owners when thesystem is commissioned. Instead, the utility pays only as the energy is actually generated which provides owners and installers with anincentive to insure that systems perform as advertised.
There are benefits to the system owner as well, including a higheroverall compensation rate and a long-term guaranteed income stream. After all, this is what they did in Germany and turned that sun-starvedstate into the largest solar market in the world. Surely we could dothe same – or better – here in sunny Southern California?
Unfortunately, the recent history of solar programs with the localmuni utilities (with the notable exception of Pasadena Water and Power)has been very disappointing as rebates come and go at the whim ofunelected bureaucrats. It is hard to argue with LADWP’s need to get its program in order – hopefully they will take this opportunity to get itright. You can phone them at: (213) 367-4122 or email them at: email@example.com.