300 MW L.A. Solar Rooftop Power Potential?

Now that all utilities in California are on notice to source 33% of their power from renewable resources, they’ll likely be looking for smart ideas that will aid them in achieving their goals. By way of SmartPlanet, we learn of a report from the Los Angeles Business Council (LABC) which indicates that the smart way to spread solar power around Los Angeles is to target the roofs of apartment buildings. The report says that multi-family apartments offer a wealth of flat-roof real estate that could help the city generate up to 300 megawatts of power and generate 4,500 jobs over the course of their installation.

Multi-family buildings, according to the report, are best because they have more roof-top real estate than single family homes and small business. More roof space allows for larger solar power systems which have a higher generating capacity. Also, flat-roof solar systems are easier to install. Both of these are factors that help drive down costs.

Sunpower Flat Roof

image via Sunpower

City officials are jumping on board with the plan. They’ve proposed a feed-in tariff program that aims to incentivize building owners to make solar investments by paying them for the power their building’s systems feed into the grid on the order of 24 to 26 cents per kilowatt hour, but an agreement with the LA Department of Water and Power still needs to be reached over the rate that they are willing to pay. Also critical to the plan’s success is about $300 million in tax incentives that are currently available, but will expire in 2016.

Much is also being said about the “social equity” of the project. According to the report, an extensive property survey reveals that many of the rooftops with the greatest solar power potential are found in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods of the city. It is hoped that the feed-in tariff plan along with the solar power that is generated will help lower building and energy costs, thus providing assistance where it is needed most.