Produced by the Luskin Center for Innovation under the direction of J.R. DeShazo, Ryan Matulka, and Norman Wong (2011), the Solar Atlas was designed to "help cities and electricity utilities understand their own solar rooftop potential so that they may be better stewards of these resources". The City of Los Angeles has a residential photovoltaic (PV) potential of 5,500 MW (19,000 MW in LA County). While LA earns the lowest county-wide ranking for net PV potential, this poor scoring results largely from high consumption, with 12,215,847,323 kWh of capacity and 18,309,645,749 kWh of demand resulting in a net balance of -6,093,798kWh.⁹ LADWP operates at a maximum capacity of 7,460MW with a record instantaneous peak demand of 6,396MW.¹⁰ In a city where over two thirds of all energy comes from combustion of coal and natural gas and only 1% is produced through so-lar, 5,500MW of solar capacity, nearly 3/4 of all demand, rep-resents a game changer, making rapid capitalization of solar essential.
LA leads the nation in residential solar with 232 MW of in-stalled capacity, yet this figure pales in comparison to latent potential and disparity across income, race, rental status, and region is a serious problem. Problematic not only for the city’s cumulative energy future, but for individual ratepayers who are isolated from the associated economic benefits of PV installation including city, state, and federal installation incentives, and feed-in-tariff and net metering gains. While state initiatives such as the Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes Program (SASH) and Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) set a new positive standard toward addressing this disparity, the gesture is insufficient to address the severity of the gap and not applicable to Los Angeles’ public utility. With an average per capita income of $27,620, 48% of residents living under the federal poverty line, and 68% of residential occupancy filled by rent-ers, ensuring solar access to low-income earners and renters is essential not only as a mater of social equity, but as a matter of energy security and social stability.