Re "A long wait to go solar," Feb. 12
I am a retired licensed engineer and a retired licensed solar contractor. One of the deciding factors (other than age) in my retiring from the solar business in 2003 was the
increasingly bureaucratic nature of the permitting process. I attended more than one lecture on the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's approval process; there seemed to be no notion of time. Comparing this with Southern California Edison's process inclined us to avoid the DWP whenever possible.
While a licensed electrician could get approval of his whole house wiring work after waiting only a day or two, that same electrician was required to get three solar sign-offs from DWP; the third — flipping a switch — could involve weeks of waiting.
Now, as global warming increasingly is felt across the globe, I look on these gross inefficiencies as another threat to humanity.
Homeowners and businesses that go solar are helping to clean the air, fight climate change and create local jobs. We should reward them for their efforts, not bury them in red tape.
There's simply no reason for L.A. homeowners and businesses to wait months to receive solar permits. In Oakland, most permits for solar installations are processed in less than one day. The same is true for the Northern California cities of Emeryville, Hayward, Richmond, Berkeley, San Jose, San Francisco, San Leandro and dozens of others.
While on the campaign trail last year, Mayor Eric Garcetti pledged to achieve 20% local solar power in Los Angeles by 2020. Streamlining the solar permit process is a vital first step for the city.
The writer is Environment California's clean energy associate.
In June we signed the DWP's solar reservation request form. Our newly installed solar energy system passed the final building and electrical inspections in July.
We still had to wait almost two months for the DWP to come out and turn the system on. We are still fuming about having to sign an amendment to our contract months after it had been approved. It basically was, "Here, sign this amendment or we'll never turn the system on."
At the end of October, I excitedly opened our DWP bill. Imagine my disappointment when I saw dollar amounts that didn't reflect that we have solar. When I called the DWP, I was told that this was an estimated bill based on our past usage, that they were having problems with a new computer system and that eventually I'll get a new, amended bill from a different department, the solar billing department.
I have not yet received this bill.
This seems attributable to something other than red tape or bad management.