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Community Power Report Calls for FITs in California

In a new 61-page report, San Francisco Bay area activists call for developing the distributed generation of renewable energy in California through a system of feed-in tariffs. The Bay Area’s Local Clean Energy Alliance published Community Power–Decentralized Renewable Energy in California to frame the debate about how the state can meet its renewable energy target as a new governor takes office. During the Gubernatorial campaign, Governor Jerry Brown called for the development of 20,000 MW of new renewable energy capacity, 12,000 MW of which would be set aside for small, distributed projects. Written by Bay Area activist Al Weinrub, Community Power considered projects from a suite of renewable technologies less than 20 MW in size. Weinrub argues that decentralized renewable generation can be brought on line more quickly with less environmental impact than large, central station renewable energy projects, and thus, are better able to help the state meet its renewable energy targets. Decentralized generation, Weinrub notes, also provides more local economic benefits than large central station projects. In Germany, farmers and groups of citizen investors can own renewable generation directly without the need for “third-party” or corporate ownership as is common in the US. For example, half of all wind development in Germany is owned by farmers and cooperatives of people living in nearby communities. Revenues from locally-owned projects go into the pockets of local residents who then use their profits to buy local goods and services and pay local taxes. To implement Local Clean Energy Alliance’s vision of decentralized development of renewable energy, Community Power suggests two strategies: Community Choice Aggregation and Feed-in Tariffs. Weinrub argues that policy action is needed because the state will fail to meet its renewable energy targets. He cites a 2009 California Public Utility Commission report that despite 129 contracts for more than 10,000 MW of large, central station renewable projects having been awarded, little has been built. Based on experience in Germany, Denmark, and Spain, Weinrub describes the key features of successful feed-in tariff design. He says that a feed-in tariff program with these features is simple, stable, and–importantly–fair. A well designed feed-in tariff program, says Weinrub, allows non-taxable entities such as cities, counties, state government, cooperatives, and nonprofits, the opportunity to pursue renewable energy projects. The report contrasts sharply with the inaptly named study by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) on Model Program Rules for Community Renewables that omits discussion of both feed-in tariffs and renewables. Despite its title, the IREC report was directed solely at solar photovoltaics, ignoring other technologies. The report also only examined its preferred mechanism, net-metering, with an emphasis on third-party ownership. Current policy in the US requires financial acrobatics to develop renewable energy with federal tax subsidies. Many projects developed locally have to sell ownership to a third party with a sufficient business tax to use the federal credits. Instead of IREC’s approach recommending third-party ownership, the Local Clean Energy Alliance’s report encourages more local ownership through feed-in tariffs. According to a recent report, 51% of the 43,000 MW of renewable generation in Germany in 2009 was owned by farmers and individual investors. Germany uses a sophisticated system of differentiated feed-in tariffs that enable almost anyone to develop renewable energy. Much of the rapid growth of renewable energy in Germany has occurred during the past decade when Advanced Renewable Tariffs were first introduced. Read the original post on
windenergybasics Paul Gipe is the author of Wind Energy Basics.

Germany Continues Exporting Electricity: Renewables Driving Down Prices Despite Closing Reactors

Re-posted from Renewable Energy World. Recent data shows Germany continues to export electricity despite closing seven nuclear reactors. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that continued renewable energy expansion in Germany is driving down power prices. Germany’s bureau of statistics reports that the country exported more electricity than it imported during the first half of 2011. This disproves […] Read More..

Distributed Geothermal Can Add 7% of Californian Supply

Small, geographically dispersed geothermal power plants could provide 7% of California’s electricity supply, according to an analysis of data collected by a consultant to the Golden state. California recently passed new legislation requiring the state to provide 33% of its electricity from renewable energy and newly elected Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law. […] Read More..

German Wind More Stable Year-to-Year than Fukushima Reactors

Critics of wind energy often charge that wind energy is too “unreliable” to generate a large portion of a nation’s electricity and suggest that base load needs “reliable” sources of generation such as nuclear power. While wind is a “variable” resource, that is, the wind doesn’t always blow and when it does it doesn’t always […] Read More..

Germany Continues Breaking Clean Energy Records

As the nuclear reactor accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant continues to dominate the world’s attention, Germany has quietly broken more renewable energy records. The conservative government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, struggling to stay ahead of public attitudes toward nuclear power in the run-up to regional elections, issued its annual report on the contribution of […] Read More..

Hawaii’s New Feed-in Tariff for Solar PV Finding Limited Adoption So Far

Expected interest in Hawaii’s feed-in tariff program has not materialized, says a report by the program’s independent observer. Accion Group found that in the first month of operation, Hawaii’s long-awaited feed-in tariff policy had generated little activity, and much of the allocated capacity remains to be filled. Hawaii’s experience contrasts markedly with successful programs in […] Read More..