DWP’s Solar Eclipse

ENVIRONMENT POLITICS-Why is the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) limited by regulation as to how much residentially produced solar electricity it can buy from residential customers like you and me? 

Although my house correctly configured with sufficient solar panels could produce approximately 4 times as much electricity as I consume- with most of it being produced during peak commercial electricity demand hours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.- LADWP is limited by regulation to only giving me a credit toward future use- never cash. 

This leaves LADWP in the position where it is forced to buy predominantly fossil fuel generated electric on the open market at a significantly higher price than what they would have to pay to local environmentally friendly residential solar producers like myself. After contacting LADWP, the Mayor's office, and the City Council, I am no closer to getting any rational explanation for this apparent misguided policy. 

The closest thing to an answer that I received from mayor's office was, "Solar energy is not dependable and that reliance on solar would not give us the fossil fuel generated reserve capability we might need at some point in the future. 

In response, I pointed out that if one took the weather records for as long as they have been kept in Los Angeles and asked what was a conservative estimate as to how many days of full and partial sunlight we have received in the past, even a conservative projection of this amount of sunlight into the future would seem to justify paying for at least some local residential solar production of electricity. 

They said they would get back to me on this- I'm still waiting. 

If we are trying to create an incentive for residential electric users to do solar installation on their homes, wouldn't the ability to sell one's excess electric production to LADWP be an excellent motivation that just might significantly lessen our dependence on electricity produced by greenhouse gas polluting electricity sources? 

It is worth noting that there is also an inverse relationship between residential and business consumption and production of electric in that residential could generate far more electric than it presently does under the present self-limiting system, since peak hours for such production are when most people are out of their homes at work, which would allow virtually all residential solar electric power to be put on the grid during peak industrial usage from 10am - 3 pm. 

And conversely, most residential usage takes place outside peak usage hours. 

A further incentive for the local residential production of electricity might be the big earthquake that all agree we are long overdue for. The recent commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake and the disruption it caused should make us take note that we are now far more vulnerable in terms of electrical power than we were back in January of 1994. 

What possible rational as opposed to base political reason could there possibly be to eliminate incentives to increase development of decentralized residential solar electric production and it boundless potential to produce environmentally friendly electric energy? 

If the dire and uncontradicted reality of global warming and nuclear disasters like the ongoing tragedy at Fukashima are merely harbingers of things to come in our not to distant future, how can our leadership continue to ignore this impending doom while carrying on business as usual.


(Leonard Isenberg is a Los Angeles observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He’s a second generation teacher at LAUSD and blogs at perdaily.com. Leonard can be reached at Lenny@perdaily.com









Vol 12 Issue 19

Pub: Mar 4, 2014