The tool is an interactive, web-based platform for visualizing the best locations to install new distributed energy resources (solar) throughout LA County. Installing solar can help improve local energy system resilience, community-scale Zero Net Energy, and grid reliability.

The map uses cutting-edge data and procedures to show high-ranked areas for installing solar. This capability has not been publicly available to date. The tool focuses on the service territory of the regional investor-owned electric utility in LA County, Southern California Edison. The tool supports many types of energy systems planning activities, including siting DERs and electric vehicle charging stations, understanding geographic variations in congestion of local transmission and distribution grid infrastructure, and high-detail areas best poised to achieve ZNE goals.

The tool is one of the capstone products of an Advanced Energy Community Phase I design grant for communities in LA County. As part of the design process, the AEC project team compiled many sources of data for unincorporated communities of Eastern LA County, including Bassett and Avocado Heights on electricity and natural gas consumption, community characteristics, and existing grid capacity. The planning process devised methods and datasets to support Net Zero Electricity designs in these parts of LA County. The Prioritization Tool builds on the knowledge gained as part of the AEC design process for effectively integrating these many data sources to support Zero Net Electricity planning.

Specifically, the tool integrates data for:

  • Rooftop solar potential,
  • High-detail electricity consumption from the LA Energy Atlas,
  • Net solar potential considering historic on-site demand for potential installation sites,
  • High-detail grid operations data from the Distributed Energy Resources Integration Map (DERiM) based on data published by Southern California Edison (SCE)
  • Hourly dynamic load (demand) profiles for SCE territory
  • Solar electricity generation profiles from the California Solar Initiative,
  • Socio-demographic information from the CalEnviroScreen dataset and U.S. Census data.

In developing the tool, we devised custom methods to calculate net solar potential within the constraints of available data for grid capacity limitations and operations. The new methods included calculating hourly net solar potential and attributing groups of parcels to local circuits across a vast metropolitan area that comprises nearly 16% of the population of California.

The tool assembles these multiple “big data” sets and makes the results accessible through dynamic, high-detail mapping. The tool has multiple screens for viewing data that include: 1) a summary page showing a color-coded map with high priority locations for DERs based on a composite ranking criteria, and 2) a multi-screen viewer showing the component maps that comprise the composite score.

The tool is of relevance to multiple types of users, including policy makers and regulators, utility planners, local government analysts, and researchers. We devised user classes and tailored the product based on feedback with regional stakeholders. The tool provides users opportunities to tailor the display results to support these diverse audiences. For instance, dynamic mapping allows for viewing results at multiple geographic scales. Additionally, users can adjust the views through a dynamic interface that allows for selectable map layers and adjustable indices.