LA’s solar dream could turn into an embarrassment

Los Angeles’ aim to increase household generation of solar power could fall well short of the city’s target of 100,000 households by the end of the decade, with only 40 systems installed in the last year, according to a report in the Washington Post.

What is perhaps the US’s most ambitious solar campaign was launched a year ago, when the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power began offering subsidies to rate payers to reimburse half the price of every new solar energy system installed. However, due to factors such as the lack of qualified contractors to install the systems, and the high cost of between $10,000 and $20,000, which can take up to 20 years to return their initial cost in the form of lower energy bills, the take-up of the scheme has been far lower than expected. There is also only one solar panel manufacturer based in the city, which is unable to supply sufficient systems in order to meet the demand.

According to potential customers in Los Angeles, solar panels are still a luxury item. “I really like the idea of running my house with solar power,” said LA resident Andrew Chin. “But they’re still pretty expensive, even with the rebates, and so I gotta ask myself, what am I doing this for. I’m thinking I might wait until they work the kinks out.”

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