Reporting David Goldstein
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A CBS2 Investigation broadcast earlier this month has spawned change — solar systems installed on L.A. homes received the OK from DWP to be turned on after months of sitting idle on rooftops.
Lee Walker has finally gotten the green light from DWP to “go green” after four months of waiting for his panels to be turned on.
“It’s just so nice to know with this sunlight and all that I’m producing electricity. I’m not using coal and I’m getting renewable energy and I like that,” Walker said.
Walker and hundreds of other DWP customers had been waiting months to turn on their solar systems. Nothing had happened until we exposed the problem in our investigation.
Walker put down $45,000 back in February for the solar system on the roof of his home in Leimart Park, hoping to reduce his carbon footprint and reduce his power bill.
DWP told Walker that he would be able to use the system within a few weeks, but he waited, and waited, but months later was still paying big power bills.
That’s because DWP had not sent an inspector out to approve the system and even warned Walker that if he turned it on, he would get reported to the city attorney’s office.
“It’s as if I had taken the money out of my bank account and just put it up on the roof to sit there,” Walker said.
Now he has a new flyer with better news.
“You are free to turn your system on and begin enjoying the benefits of solar energy on your next energy bill,” it read.
“We had a short-term situation that was a problem,” said DWP General Manager Ron Nichols.
He told us part of the problem was that the utility suspended its solar program back in April because of an unexpected number of requests. They also ran out of money to give rebates, leaving many in limbo.
“We’ve been working to get staff on it more quickly, get on top of that and move it forward and we’re doing that,” Nichols said.
Now after our story aired, we are hearing from viewers saying that their systems are getting turned on and DWP employees are telling them the utility has put more inspectors on the streets.
“Really sounded like the Channel 2 News story got their attention and it’s working for everybody that was in my situation,” Walker said.
Now he is just happy that his investment is producing some sunny results.