Why Isn’t the U.S. Embracing Feed-in Tariffs?

The sun is rising on a new era for renewable energy in Gainesville, Fla.

Starting this month, residents and business owners with solar panels connected to the power grid will get a monthly check from their city-owned electric utility, the result of a first-in-the-nation policy called a feed-in tariff.

The new policy essentially turns privately owned rooftop solar panels into micro power generators for the utility. The city will pay up to 32 cents per kilowatt-hour for power they generate over the next 20 years, delivering their owners about a 5 percent profit over the equipment’s lifespan.

Feed-in tariffs like this have long been the primary tool for financing renewable energy projects in Europe, and they are a reason Spain and Germany have become world leaders in wind and solar. Advocates say the system is simpler, more effective and less expensive than traditional U.S. incentives for renewable energy, which are an often byzantine mix of tax incentives, rebates, state mandates and utility programs.

So what’s standing in the way of wider adoption in the United States? (Continue reading…)

The Ultimate Urban Solar Lab: New York City

Federal stimulus funds could turn New York City’s rooftops into a laboratory for urban solar.

Con Edison, which serves 3.2 million customers in the New York City area, is proposing a 12 megawatt solar energy pilot program that would add solar panels to the utility’s buildings and property, help customers pay for installations, and solicit developers to build larger rooftop systems in its territory.

While 12 megawatts might sound small, the potential is enormous.

If it succeeds, what New York City learns from the project will shed valuable light on how photovoltaics can help cities worldwide manage peak electricity demands on hot summer days. (Continue reading…)

Federal stimulus funds could turn New York City’s rooftops into a laboratory for urban solar.

Con Edison, which serves 3.2 million customers in the New York City area, is proposing a 12 megawatt solar energy pilot program that would add solar panels to the utility’s buildings and property, help customers pay for installations, and solicit developers to build larger rooftop systems in its territory.

While 12 megawatts might sound small, the potential is enormous.

If it succeeds, what New York City learns from the project will shed valuable light on how photovoltaics can help cities worldwide manage peak electricity demands on hot summer days. (Continue reading…)