Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

Los Angeles' large-scale solar rooftop project begins Wednesday

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The city of Los Angeles has developed the largest rooftop solar buyback program in the country, and on Wednesday civic leaders will flip the switch on the first installation, an apartment complex in North Hollywood.  Under the program, the Department of Water and Power buys energy from businesses that build solar projects at least 10 times bigger than the solar arrays on a typical home.

The company responsible for the solar panels on the North Hollywood apartment complex is  Solar Provider Group. CEO Christian Wentzel says the DWP's program lured his firm to the region.

"We decided to move our US headquarters right here to commit more than $50 million of resources," he said. "We're going to hire more than 30 people in the next 18 months."

Wentzel's company is one of dozens that have signed long-term contracts with the DWP. Under the large-scale rooftop program, the agency will buy up to 75 megawatts of solar generating capacity over the next 18 months -- that's enough to power 34,000 homes. Once the DWP has bought that much solar power, the city may expand the program.  

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