On February 2, 2009, Huron Consulting Group released its independent assessment of the City of Los Angeles’ proposed Measure B, which would require the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to develop 400 megawatts of solar generation by 2014. In late 2008, the Los Angeles City Council approved a motion to place Measure B on the March 3, 2009 ballot. Measure B is one component of the City’s “Solar LA” program, which is designed to increase the amount of renewable energy powering the City.
According to its Report, Huron based its analysis on a macro evaluation of the solar industry, expected program costs, and identification of key value drivers. Huron created a computer model based on a series of twelve inputs, including, amongst other things, hardware costs, installation costs, monitoring and maintenance costs, capacity factor, and cost of capital. Interestingly, the Huron Report projects that the cost per DC watt installed for solar generation will decline to $2.20-$2.40 in 2012. Additionally, the Huron Report predicts that thin film technologies will create more competition in the solar market and that “the realization of lower thin film manufacturing costs and scalability will put pricing pressure on traditional crystalline silicon PV technology manufacturers.” Huron ran 10,000 simulations through its model to compute the expected cost per kilowatt. The Huron Report concluded that the expected cost of implementing 400 MW of LADWP owned solar generation is $0.119 per kWh generated, which equates to an incremental rate increase of approximately one percent over LADWP’s existing financial plan.
The Los Angeles Times (1/29/09 editorial ) has criticized the process by which Measure B was placed on the ballot, pointing out that the City Council was not provided with the estimated cost of the project before it approved placing Measure B on the March 3, 2009 ballot. It remains to be seen whether the Huron Report allays these concerns.