Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) took a giant leap forward in rewriting their Electric Service Requirements, and the solar industry took a small step toward simplifying the installation of rooftop solar. This long overdue action by LADWP will reduce the cost of installing roof top solar in Los Angeles by $500 to $10,000. Effective immediately, LADWP removed the need for open blade switches and performance meters on 95% of the solar systems homeowners commonly install. This reduces red tape, infrastructure and labor costs, ultimately speeding up the adoption of solar energy.
The success of this policy change is due to years of lobbying by the solar industry and collaboration with LADWP staff members. In November of 2018, LADWP Commissioner Aura Vasquez, working with Solar Forward CEO, Mark Smith, helped start a Solar Working group made up of LADWP staff, CALSSA staff and local LA-based solar contractors. Stakeholders have been meeting every few months and working together to streamline the solar installation process. Success has come slowly, but definitive progress has been made and the solar industry welcomes the progress.
There is still plenty of room for improvement in streamlining the paperwork and interconnection process, especially with larger solar systems. Clearly, there are cultural differences between LADWP, a utility that was founded in 1902, and the evolving solar industry. Finding common ground and developing a smooth working relationship, is vital to insure a robust energy grid and clean sources of power, for future generations.
On November 27, 2019, Eric Taylor, an assistant director at LADWP, sent out an email to the Working Group highlighting the recent changes. For solar electric systems less than 30 kW, solar companies do not have to install a performance meter socket. For solar-plus-storage systems with an aggregate capacity of less than 20 kW, no open blade utility disconnect switches are needed.
News item from Solar Forward