HomeCity NewsGlendale Water and Power Talks Highlight Solar Panel Costs, Permits

Glendale Water and Power Talks Highlight Solar Panel Costs, Permits

Community members expressed concerns over installation and permit costs for solar panels at Glendale Water and Power’s third community outreach meeting on Monday, a series of talks intended to help draft an equitable solar and energy storage adoption plan.
The energy adoption plan will aim to guide the city to reach two goals set by the City Council in August 2022: to achieve at least 10% of customer adoption of solar energy systems by 2027 with an emphasis on solar panels; and to reduce energy demand through energy storage and the use of distributed energy resources (DERs).
Hannah Platter, an environmental justice lead with Energy and Environmental Economics, or E3, a consultant for this project, explained that reducing demand can be as simple as people shifting usage to hours when fewer people are using electricity. Platter also offered a broader scope to the goals of the plan.
“There will be an emphasis on ensuring equity, reliability and reducing cost shifts to low-income customers,” Platter said. “At this point, we’re still in the very beginning of our phase of crafting this plan and the point of this meeting is to talk to members in the community and understand what we should be including in our plan.”
Currently, Glendale has about 3,000 installed solar systems — with the majority of these being residential — out of about 90,000 customers, which is about 3% solar penetration. To reach Council’s goal, the city will need an additional 9,000 systems to be installed.
“This would mean that we need to install about 2,000 systems per year for the next three years to reach that goal by the end of 2027,” Platter explained. “Last year, less than 400 systems were installed. So meeting this goal of reaching 2,000 systems a year would require a really, really big push.”
Those who attended the virtual community meeting on Monday identified cost as a major obstacle to installing solar, emphasizing that it’s not just the cost of installing the panels, but also the price of city permits and potential upgrades to older roofs to ensure they can support the panels.
In addition to the cost of permits required to install solar, multiple attendees shared their frustrations with the wait times in receiving permits, with one resident saying it took them six months to receive their permit — though the city’s website says they take an average of four weeks.
During the meeting, Platter also provided more information surrounding DERs, which are energy resources generated at the same site as the electrical load, such as at someone’s home or office rather than at a power plant. External power sources can include batteries, EV chargers, generators or wind harnessed devices.
“These are devices that can either generate electricity like solar panels if you think back to policy goal number one,” she said. “Or they can shift energy to change what times they consume energy, like smart thermostats or electric vehicles if you think about policy goal number two of demand management.”
GWP’s plan will include an analysis of the benefits and costs of DERs “including direct and indirect economic, environmental, societal and other noneconomic benefits and costs,” according to their presentation.
E3 representatives noted that while the use of DERs can reduce energy costs and be a net positive investment, the initial upfront costs may cause challenges for low- and moderate-income households.
Looking at multifamily properties is also important when discussing citywide DER implementation, especially given that Glendale is home to about 53,000 multifamily units, in addition to about 24,000 single family homes, Platter said.
Programs for multifamily properties include community solar and virtual net metering, however, Platter said these still bring challenges such as “administrative complexities, high upfront costs, and lack of available land.”
“We hope throughout this process to consider different programs [for multifamily and rental properties] that will work best for Glendale in particular,” she added.
Glendale has four incentive programs for energy use: Net Energy Metering (NEM) Program, where solar customers are eligible to receive a bill credit for excess generation produced by their solar system; Peak Savings Program, which enables financial incentives for reducing demand during critical peak demand periods; Electric Vehicle Charging Station Rebate, which provides rebates for installing charging stations at residences or businesses; and Off-Peak Electric Vehicle Charging Rebate Program, which provides incentives for residential customers to charge between 9 p.m. and 12 p.m. the next day.
As a part of this energy plan, GWP and E3 are looking at adding additional incentives. One meeting attendee suggested that the city offer a battery backup incentive program, which they said will help homeowners during outages and help the city meet a smaller electrical demand.
Another attendee brought up concerns over the “boom and bust” nature of incentive programs, specifically as it affects contractors who may spend time and resources training employees on solar installation all for it to come to a halt once the 2027 goal is reached. They suggested adding subsequent goals such as 15% by 2030 to combat this.
After analyzing feedback, GWP and E3 will host two more community meetings in May to share and receive comments on their findings. With that, they will draft a plan which will be brought to the City Council in August or September.
To voice concerns or suggestions relating to solar adoption and DER implementation, visit forms.gle/fnGJ1xewaQ7UuPaW8. The survey closes April 12.

First published in the March 16 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

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