In places such as Arizona, where utilities and the solar industry bicker over pricing and metering policies, everyone suffers. In Los Angeles, where the same policies are embraced, everyone wins as increasingly larger projects come online.
At the Los Angeles Business Council’s annual Sustainability Summit in April, Los Angeles-based PermaCity unveiled its latest project, which will set a new record. The Westmont solar array will occupy 2 million square feet of rooftop space on buildings near the Port of Los Angeles. PermaCity describes it as the “largest solar feed-in-tariff project in the nation.”
The panels will generate 16.4 megawatts (MW) of solar energy for Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) customers, enough to power 5,000 homes. In a nod to the merits of the utility’s feed-in-tariff policy, the project is also estimated to generate $76 million in revenue from clean energy sold back to the LADWP over the life of its 20-year lease. Approximately 85–90 percent of that revenue will go back to the building owner.
According to PermaCity, other benefits include the creation of 500 jobs, a state-of-the-art SolarStrap roof and training facility for local workers to become best-in-class solar installers, and a savings of about $400,000 per year in energy costs for the buildings’ owner.
It is not the first big project to come online as a result of the LADWP’s feed-in-tariff policy. A 5.1-MW project at the headquarters of fashion retailer Forever 21 in Los Angeles ranks among the largest of its kind in the world. The facility is carbon-neutral and 100 percent solar-powered. PermaCity said the Westmont project will be three times larger.