The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is planning to expand and modify its feed-in tariff (FiT) program.
LADWP’s FiT program – a key local solar initiative for the department and the largest municipal FiT program in the nation – was recommended for expansion this week by LADWP’s board of commissioners, pending city council approval.
The proposal includes 300 MW of additional capacity and program changes aimed to boost participation. LADWP says the initiative is a critical part of the City of Los Angeles’ Green New Deal, which targets 100% renewable energy by 2045. The board has authorized 50 MW of the 300 MW to be implemented in the next year.
“The FiT program has been enormously well-received, as it provides dependable guidelines and set pricing to give customers and businesses the confidence to invest in renewable energy. This expansion will allow even bigger projects incorporating new, innovative technology to participate throughout the locations we serve,” says Martin L. Adams, LADWP’s general manager and chief engineer.
The FiT program allows customers, solar companies and other third parties to develop solar or other eligible renewable energy projects within LADWP’s service territory and sell the power to the department at a set price for distribution on the city’s power grid. By rapidly increasing local renewable energy generation, FiT will help meet aggressive renewable energy targets and decrease the need for costly transmission projects to bring in power from outside the Los Angeles basin, the department explains.
Several changes to the FiT program were approved by the board of commissioners to simplify the process, modernize the program and provide additional opportunities for participation. To allow larger projects to apply for FiT, the maximum program project size has been increased from 3 MW to 10 MW. Additional renewable energy technologies can now be incorporated into FiT projects, including wind, geothermal, and small or conduit hydroelectric. Pricing has also been adjusted to reflect the project capacity, type of renewable energy and location. The expansion also includes an additional 2 MW of capacity for government entities and tribal communities in Owens Valley, which has already installed 4 MW of solar PV projects.
LADWP’s FiT program was introduced in 2013 as a 150 MW program and was re-launched to offer 65 MW with new guidelines in mid-2017. As of Sept. 24, 2019, the program included 96 projects totaling 66.2 MW in service, producing enough energy to supply about 18,000 homes. As with LADWP’s community solar programs, more than half of in-service FiT projects are located in “solar equity hotspots” in disadvantaged communities disproportionately impacted by air pollution.
In 2020, LADWP plans to introduce a FiT+ program to support local solar-plus-storage projects.