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Solar Myth #2 – The End of the Story
Posted April 1st, 2011
The concept of selling solar power to your utility can be a bit confusing, particularly because there are some who would use the dream of earning lots of cash with very little work to get your attention in order to sell you something so they can make money. My last post discussed Net Metering, one form of “selling” your power to the utility. This week I’ll give a brief definition of Feed In Tariffs (FITs), something you may have heard about in relation to Germany or Oregon. Oregon is of particular interest here because it’s in the U.S., and because on April 1, 2011, the third round of FITs will open.
Feed-in tariffs are simply payments made to someone who generates electricity by a renewable resource. So yes, you can actually sell your power to your utility – IF you happen to live where there is a feed in tariff. Unfortunately FITs are hard to come by in the U.S. From my research only Oregon, California, Florida, Indiana and Georgia currently have FITs (though I may have missed something). A feed-in tariff program in Wisconsin is currently closed, however reopening the program is under consideration.
Feed-in Tariffs are known by many different names: Electricity Feed Laws, Feed-in Laws, Feed-in Tariffs (FITs), Advanced Renewable Tariffs (ARTs), Renewable Tariffs, and more recently Renewable Energy Payments. Under these programs anyone on the grid who is producing electricity from renewable energy is eligible for payment for all the power they produce. The programs vary from area to area as to how much the renewable generator is paid for their electricity and over how long a period, but the underlying concept is the same.
Advanced Renewable Tariffs (ARTs) are the modern version of Electricity Feed Laws. They differ from simpler feed-in tariffs in several ways, most importantly because they are differentiated by technology, application, project size, or resource intensity. There is one price for wind energy, another for solar, and so on. Tariffs within each technology can also be differentiated by project size or, in the case of wind and solar energy, by the productivity of the resource. Tariffs for new projects are also subject to periodic review to determine if the tariffs are sufficiently robust to meet the targets desired in the time allotted.
Electricity feed-in programs are widely used in Europe, most notably in Germany, France, and Spain. There is much debate about how these programs should be run, but there is little argument that they are so far the world’s most successful policy mechanism for stimulating the rapid development of renewable energy.
To find out more about U.S. feed-in tariff programs, as well as other incentives for renewables and energy efficiency, visit:
Sorry for the blasé commentary. For some reason I just couldn’t find much energy for the FIT subject this week. I look forward to comments and questions about Feed-in Tariffs, net metering, or other sustainability subjects.
Coming soon – I’ll introduce the second of the wonderful organizations we are supporting through our planned giving program. Now that’s something I can get excited about!!
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