The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power's board pressured its staff to set loftier goals for its solar power program at a workshop on May 2. To help reach the board's hoped-for goal of installing another 10 MW of capacity to reach 21 MW by 2011, staff proposed reorienting the department's remaining $70 million of spending authority. It pitched switching rebates from a flat per-watt rate to a performance rate that is based on the geographic location of the installation, its orientation, and other specific factors. Staff hope to accept new rebate applications for solar panel installations from Los Angeles home and business owners beginning this summer. LADWP operates the program under a ten-year, $150 million set-aside in the department's regular budget. Since its authorization in 2000, LADWP has spent $80 million to achieve 11 MW of installed photovoltaic capacity. The department stopped taking applications for solar incentives in 2003 after demand for rebates exceeded the program's budget. At this week's meeting, solar installers grumbled that the department has spent too much money administering the program and used a substantial portion of its funds to build a few "Taj Mahal" projects. "DWP doesn't live in a vacuum, but behaves as if it does," said Peter Parrish, a solar installer and member of the city's Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council. The department, for example, spent $12 million on glitzy installations at the city convention center, its own parking lot, and other locations that total 1 MW of capacity. It also has spent 23 percent of the money, more than $18 million, to administer the program. Meanwhile, the $50 million it provided in rebates helped install 10 MW of photovoltaic capacity on the rooftops of Los Angeles homes and businesses. In light of the history, many installers urged the department to align its proposed changes to the city's solar incentive program with the state's more ambitious solar programs. Some homeowners and solar installers lauded the department's efforts, but many challenged the municipal utility to be at least as ambitious as the California Solar Initiative, which seeks a million solar roofs statewide. The California Public Utilities Commission's statewide program would spend $3.2 billion to install 3,000 MW of rooftop photovoltaic capacity (Circuit, Jan. 20, 2006). LADWP commissioners were receptive to the criticisms. Vice-chair David Nahai asked the staff why the department cannot tap other pots of money to increase its solar goal "in the seat of the sun." LADWP chair Mary Nichols told the staff it should look at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District as a model for muni solar energy programs. She also asked the staff to further study how to enable third-party ownership of solar systems in the city on schools and nonprofit organizations' buildings. Such organizations are not eligible for federal tax credits. However, if third parties owned the systems, they could take advantage of those credits, which would further lower the cost of solar panel installations. The board gave the staff 30 days to address these and other concerns and return with a revised version of its solar incentive program.