L.A. County maps existing, potential solar power systems

Los Angeles County has created a solar map of the jurisdiction so officials and residents can now check the solar potential of government rooftops and view all solar photovoltaic installations in the area, including residential, commercial and government buildings. The map also shows solar installations by ZIP code.

Denver-based CH2M HILL has created 3-D models for the county municipal buildings. Using these models and aerial imagery, the company’s technology estimates the solar potential of a rooftop by measuring the elements of a rooftop structure, the direction of the sun, shadows cast by other structures and the slope of the roof.

The county has mapped 1,100 municipal buildings there, and the mapping will speed implementation of future county solar installations, said David Herrmann, client solutions director, CH2M HILL’s Enterprise Management Solutions, provider of the technology.

"As a major electricity user, with facilities spread across a wide geography, L.A. County is a natural testbed for the implementation of solar energy systems,” said Howard Choy, the county's energy division manager.

Because of the level of detail of the map, it will reduce the need for on-site assessments -- solar installers don't have to visit every roof to see if it can support solar, saving time and money. officials said.

The project began in January, with the ultimate goal being a “one-stop solar shop” for residents and businesses. a single location for information to help aggregate potential solar projects into a larger, single county-funded program.

The solar map can be viewed here.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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