Distributed Energy Resources

LADWP board votes to expand feed-in tariff program by 300 MW

The Board of Commissioners for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) on Sept. 24 voted to expand LADWP’s feed-in tariff program, a key local solar initiative for the public power utility.

The LADWP Board of Commissioners signed off on 300 megawatts of additional capacity and feed-in tariff program changes aimed at boosting participation. The board authorized 50 MW of the 300 MW to be implemented in the next year. The program’s expansion is subject to Los Angeles City Council approval.

Part of LADWP’s Clean Grid L.A. initiative, the 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. 

The program creates revenue for LADWP’s commercial customers while also contributing to the green economy by supporting sustainable businesses and local jobs, LADWP noted.

By rapidly increasing local renewable energy generation, the feed-in tariff “will help meet aggressive renewable energy targets while also decreasing the need for costly transmission projects to bring in power from outside the Los Angeles basin,” the public power utility said.

LADWP said that a variety of changes to the 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 the feed-in tariff, the maximum program project size has been increased from 3 MW to 10 MW. Additional renewable energy technologies can now be incorporated into feed-in tariff 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 the Owens Valley, which has already installed 4 MW of solar PV projects.

LADWP’s feed-in tariff 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 September 24, 2019, the program included 96 projects totaling 66.2 MW in service. LADWP said that its feed-in tariff program is the largest municipal feed-in tariff program in the nation.

LADWP said that as with its community solar programs, more than half of in-service feed-in tariff projects are located in solar equity hotspots in disadvantaged communities disproportionately impacted by air pollution.

In 2020, LADWP plans to introduce a feed-in tariff program to support local solar plus storage projects. “These types of projects have become a priority for LADWP’s power investment strategy, as they help meet peak demand by reducing reliance on natural gas during evening hours or cloudy days when solar is not generating,” LADWP said.

The projects also provide voltage control support to maintain distribution and transmission reliability requirements, it noted.