NEWS IN THE WORLD OF POWER AND INTEGRATED BUILDING SYSTEMS
Feed-In Tariff Projects Sizzling in Los Angeles
> IN PLACES SUCH AS ARIZONA, where utilities and the solar
industry bicker over pricing and metering policies, everyone
suffers. In Los Angeles, where the same policies are embraced,
everyone wins as increasingly larger projects come online.
At the Los Angeles Business Council’s annual Sustainability
Wired Broadband on the Way Out?
Summit in April, Los Angeles-based PermaCity unveiled its
latest project, which will set a new record. The Westmont solar
array will occupy 2 million square feet of rooftop space on
buildings near the Port of Los Angeles. PermaCity describes it as
the “largest solar feed-in-tariff project in the nation.”
The panels will generate 16. 4 megawatts (MW) of solar
energy for Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
(LADWP) customers, enough to power 5,000 homes. In a nod to
the merits of the utility’s feed-in-tariff policy,
the project is also estimated to
generate $76 million in revenue from clean energy sold back to
the LADWP over the life of its 20-year lease. Approximately 85–
90 percent of that revenue will go back to the building owner.
According to PermaCity, other benefits include the creation
of 500 jobs, a state-of-the-art SolarStrap roof and training
facility for local workers to become best-in-class solar installers,
and a savings of about $400,000 per year in energy costs for the
It is not the first big project to come online as a result of
the LADWP’s feed-in-tariff policy. A 5.1-MW project at the
headquarters of fashion retailer Forever 21 in Los Angeles ranks
among the largest of its kind in the world. The facility is carbon-
neutral and 100 percent solar-powered. PermaCity said the
Westmont project will be three times larger.
> ACCORDING TO THE LATEST
computer and internet-use data released
by the National Telecommunications
and Information Administration (NTIA),
Americans’ rapid move toward mobile
internet service may come at the expense
of home broadband.
The results come from the U.S.
Census Bureau’s Computer and
Internet Use Supplement to the Current
Population Survey (CPS), which includes
data collected for the NTIA in July 2015
from nearly 53,000 households. These
findings suggest that technological
changes are driving a profound shift in
how Americans use the internet, which
may be opening a new digital divide
based on the use of particular devices
and internet services.
“Mobile internet service appears
to be competing more directly with
wired-internet connections,” said
Giulia McHenry, chief economist
with the Office of Policy Analysis and
Three-quarters of American households
using the internet at home in 2015 still used
wired technologies for high-speed internet
service. However, it is a sizeable drop
in wired home broadband use, from 82
percent in July 2013 to 75 percent in 2015.
“Over this same period, the data also
shows that the proportion of online
households that relied exclusively on
mobile service at home doubled between
2013 and 2015,” McHenry said.
Internet users in low-income
households were significantly more likely
to depend on a mobile data plan than
those with higher incomes— 29 percent of
households with incomes below $25,000,
compared with 15 percent of households
with incomes of $100,000 or more.
“Although wired internet service
continued to be the preferred mode of
home internet use in 2015 among those
most likely to be able to afford it, the use
of mobile data plans is clearly becoming
more popular across demographics,”
Meanwhile, Americans are increasingly
reliant on a wide range of devices to meet
their computing needs. Smartphone use
rose from 45 percent in 2013 to 53 percent
in 2015, surpassing laptops to become
the most widely used computing device.
Tablet use also increased substantially
during this period. There was also a big
jump from 2013 ( 18 percent) to 2015 ( 27
percent) in the proportion of Americans
who used smart televisions and TV-connected devices. Laptop use remained
steady in 2015, while desktop computer
use continued to slide.
Despite the trend toward more
wireless, wired broadband demand will
continue to remain strong. Everything
ultimately must be connected by cables at