Glendale to buy local power

The City Council established earlier this week a new state-mandated program for Glendale Water & Power to purchase locally generated renewable energy.

The council passed an ordinance on Tuesday adopting a so-called feed-in tariff program under which local generators of renewable energy can sign on for 10, 15, or 20 years to sell 100% of the power they generate to the city at rates calculated to equal the cost of obtaining that electricity elsewhere.

Glendale was required by law to establish a tariff program by July 1. The state-wide program was mandated by California State Senate Bill 1122 in 2008 as a means of helping California utilities meet the state's renewable energy requirements.

Utilities throughout California must obtain at least 33% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Under the program, Glendale Water & Power would pay $92.92 per megawatt-hour from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and $72.51 per megawatt-hour at all other times and holidays.

The program is capped by law at 4.2 megawatts of energy city-wide, and individual projects are capped at 1.4 megawatts.

Glendale Community College's solar installation generates 260 kilowatts, or one-sixteenth of the 4.2-megawatt cap, according to Senior Assistant City Attorney Christine Godinez.

James Jenal, founder of Pasadena-based solar-panel installation company Run On Sun, was at a recent council meeting to voice his concern that Glendale's proposed rates are too low and aren't economically feasible for smaller solar installations of 50 or 100 kilowatts.

"There is no incentive to build small solar under this system," he said. "It does nothing for getting solar throughout the city, on rooftops, where people can see it, and understand that this is a technology that makes sense."

Godinez said the city has to set its rates according to state law and can't raise them just to generate more business.

"We do have some constraint in how we set our rates … because we can't shift the costs to other customers," she said. "It has to be paid at cost."

Glendale's rates, while significantly lower than the $170 to $382 per megawatt-hour paid by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, are higher than those paid by Anaheim, at $27.52 to $68.81, or Riverside, at $58.80.

Jerry Buydos, solar program manager for the city of Riverside, said that in the two years the city has had a feed-in tariff program, it has yet to receive an applicant.

"Maybe the market will change and maybe the feed-in tariff will have a resurgence, but there's not many people interested right now," he said.

Buydos said the city had seen great success with its rebate program, which allows customers to use the energy they generate on-site and sell back any excess into the system.

Glendale Water and Power has a similar program, known as net metering.

Godinez said on Monday that the net-metering program would probably be more appropriate for smaller installations than the tariff, which is just one facet of the city's efforts to encourage renewable energy.

"Essentially, the city is looking for any and all types of distributed generation," Godinez said. "It's not only important for meeting the renewables standards, but it's just good practice."


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