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Thursday, August 31, 2000

News from Sherman Oaks in the Times Community Newspapers

DWP offers solar power incentive program
Residences, businesses could receive refunds for installing systems.

By KAREN S. KIM

With its latest in a series of environmental initiatives, the city`s Department of Water and Power encourages Valley residents and businesses to take advantage of a valuable resource for which California is known: sunlight.
Starting tomorrow, the DWP will offer financial incentives to residents and business owners who choose solar power for their electrical needs.
Because the Valley is known for its constant sunshine and its all-day summertime use of air conditioning, DWP officials expect that its solar program will succeed here.
"We would hope that the Valley would be the prime candidate for the program," said Angelina Galiteva, executive director of strategic planning for the DWP. "We hope that the community will embrace this opportunity."
The new, five-year program will reimburse $5 per watt to residents and business owners who install solar photovoltaic systems on their roofs, so long as the system is manufactured by a California company, and $3 per watt if the system is manufactured by an out-of-state firm.
For an average-size household, installing a 1,000-watt system manufactured in California would cost about $2,500 after reimbursement by the DWP.
Once the system is installed, it has a lifetime of 30 years and will use sunlight to generate power for half to two-thirds of the electricity needs of a household or business, cutting down on electricity bills for the user.
In addition, the program will also benefit the DWP and the environment.
"We do want to show that we are environmentally conscious, but we also want to diversify our programs," Galiteva said. "As the demand for electricity goes up, we have to keep upgrading our equipment. We don`t have to upgrade our equipment if we can [use solar power] to shave the peak [need for electricity.]"
A typical solar photovoltaic system places six panels on the roof of a residence, eliminating the need to burn 3.7 tons of coal each year and the release of 10,000 pounds of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In addition, a solar power system can be built right into the roofing material, such as shingles, of a house or business.
Studio City resident, actor and environmentalist Ed Begley Jr. installed a solar photovoltaic system on the roof of his house 10 years ago and said solar power is a much more reliable source of electricity.
"It`s great to have that reliability to know that the computer is never going to go off," Begley said. "During the 1994 earthquake, mine was the only house with lights on in this side of the Valley."
Because the solar panels need only transform photons emitted by the sun, and not the sunlight itself, into electricity, a house can use solar power even on cloudy days, Begley said.
"It could be cloudy for a year and you`d still have enough power for the basic essentials like cooking, the refrigerator, alarm system or garage door," he said. "A solar calculator in a dim room still works."
Begley`s roof has 108 solar panels and nine mobile, sun-tracking panels. It generates enough electricity for all of his needs, including a computer, fax machine, appliances and even his electric vehicle charger.
"[Solar power] is part of the solution for sustainable energy for the future of California," he said.
The system takes less than a day to install. The DWP hopes to install 100,000 solar rooftops in Los Angeles by 2010.
The department has reserved $6 million to initiate the five-year solar program in its first year and reserved $8 million to continue the program for the following four years.
"We`re going into the future of wireless communication, why not have wireless energy?" Galiteva said.
To apply for the DWP`s solar power incentive program, go to www.greenla.com .
Question: Do you plan on switching to solar power for your home or business? Why or why not? What would it take to get you to switch to solar power? To respond, call our Readers Hotline at (818) 772-3305, send a fax to (818) 772-3579, an e-mail to blvdourtimes@latimes.com or a letter to Our Times 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth 91311.

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