Monday, August 01, 2005

DWP charges more to alt-energy generators

Want to produce your own green energy in the City of Angels? You'll have to pay more for it, under a new LADWP pricing regime.

Beginning in January, the Department of Water and Power will charge a new fee to the Los Angeles Community College District and nearly a dozen other unidentified customers that generate a portion of their own electricity, officials said.

"The fact of the matter is, they do not want you to self-generate," said Tony Fairclough, an engineering management consultant for the college district. "They want to appear to be 'green,' but they want those dollars."

But officials with the municipal utility say the new rate schedule will cover the costs of providing back-up power in case the customer's self-generating system fails.

"Our reason for doing this is not to make it less attractive to do co-generation," said Ron Deaton, the city's former chief legislative analyst who took over last fall as general manager of the DWP.

"If you're going to hook up to our system, we have certain costs that we have to bear in order to pick up your load. We don't think it's fair to the rest of the customers for one group not to pay those costs."

DWP officials also insist the utility is committed to meeting the so-called Renewable Portfolio Standard, which calls for increasing renewable power from just 5 percent of the city's energy mix now to 13 percent by 2010 and 20 percent by 2017.

Henry Martinez, DWP chief operating officer for power, said the utility is seeking proposals for renewable-energy projects and is also considering producing some alternative energy itself.

But the new rate has infuriated customers, some of whom have received millions in grants from the DWP and other entities to install generators, solar panels and other alternative-energy equipment.

So the LADWP will give a grant to install solar panels, then turn around and take it out of your backside in higher electricity prices. Classy.