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GIS Case Study – LA County Solar Map

LA County Solar Map and Green Planning Tool

Chief Information Office with Internal Services Department
http://solarmap.lacounty.gov

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Problem:

Solar photovoltaic electricity deployment has been slowed in LA County, and elsewhere, due to the complexities of the installation process.  A business or resident interested in solar is effectively on their own as they attempt to wade through information such as: their solar electricity potential, installation costs, tax rebates, estimating energy savings, finding reputable installation contractors, and performing return on investment (ROI) calculations.

Solution:

The Los Angeles County Solar Map (http://solarmap.lacounty.gov) is a regional internet portal where LA County residents can easily find information about the potential of installing solar photovoltaic (PV) on their home or business.  By typing in an address, residents and businesses are shown:

  • Their total roof area and roof area suitable for solar
  • The system size they can install and the amount of electricity they can generate
  • The cost savings per year
  • The carbon dioxide savings per year
  • Links to installers, rebate programs, and cost estimates.
Summary:

The decision to install a solar energy system is generally difficult because it involves complex factors such as: the solar electricity potential (based on geography and building characteristics), installation costs, availability of rebates, estimated energy savings, identifying reputable installation contractors, performing return on investment (ROI) calculations, and who to contact to get started.

The County’s Chief Information Office teamed with the Internal Services Department to find a solution and created a Countywide Solar Map that benefits all buildings in Los Angeles County.  In L.A. County there are 3.5 million single-family residences and hundreds of thousands of non-residential buildings that are in the Solar Map database.

The Solar Map has been met with great enthusiasm since its launch in April 2009, averaging close to 100 visitors per day.  It is being leveraged by the County as a tool for evaluating the feasibility of installing solar PV on County buildings and in County properties, and the Gas Company has worked with the County to add solar water heating information to further enhance the site.

The application is used by County departments to identify candidate County buildings and properties for solar installations to meet a goal of offsetting 1% of its annual energy consumption with solar power.    The County has realized direct cost savings by eliminating the need to send engineers or contractors on to the roof of each of the 1,000 buildings it owns to complete a solar analysis.

The Solar Map has saved other solar stakeholders (utilities, cities, contractors, solar installers and homeowners) millions of dollars by reducing the time and risk necessary to evaluate potential projects.

Contact:  Mark Greninger, Geographic Information Officers

                  mgreninger@cio.lacounty.gov

(213) 253-5624

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