Bill Donnelly is going as green as he can. He drives a Prius. By next year, he hopes to have an all-electric vehicle. And to keep his car and home running, he wants to install solar panels on the roof of his home in the South Carthay neighborhood of Los Angeles.

But Donnelly, 63, has put his solar plans on hold, at least until he finds out how much the L.A. Department of Water and Power will kick in.

The municipal utility announced recently that it was suspending its program to encourage use of solar power for at least 90 days because of a lack of funds to meet demand from interested homeowners.

The DWP says it has

$30 million budgeted for its Solar Incentive Program to help fund rooftop installation of solar panels. But about $112 million in rebate requests have poured in from homeowners keen on cutting their power bills and being a little nicer to the planet.

Solar-power subsidies vary among different utilities, but one thing is consistent: Homeowners will still be left with some pretty hefty costs.

In the case of the DWP, the utility estimates that it costs an average of $40,000 to install a typical solar-power system. Much of that price goes into the solar panels, which rely on refined silicon and other exotic materials to harness the sun’s rays, and (at this point) aren’t cheap to produce.

Until now, the average DWP rebate for a solar installation was $16,000, or about 40% of the cost.

“Without their rebate program, I don’t see how we could move forward with this,” Donnelly told me.

Ron Nichols, the DWP’s general manager, said the budget shortfall and rising demand for solar installations necessitated a breather in the program.

“We fully support and want more renewable energy, and we want to foster solar technology,” he said, “but not at undue expense to our customers who pay for this important program.”

source: latimes