Under the city’s leadership, GRU became a state leader in developing renewable energy sources. The city led the way with a solar feed-in-tariff program and an outstanding biomass plant.
Governments that are serious about encouraging renewable energy development should understand that feed-in tariffs are the most effective incentives for businesses to invest in solar.
Gainesville’s solar feed-in tariff spurred businesses and residents to install more than 18 megawatts of solar projects since 2009 — enough to supply electricity to more than 1,400 homes and provided a boom in business for installers.
By many measures, the GRU FIT program was very successful. According to GRU staff, it has resulted in over 18MW of solar being installed with over $60 million in capital investments. Solar systems were installed on homes, businesses, schools, libraries, and the local airport. Several million dollars of local construction jobs were created, which was very important during the heart of the recession. Over 93% of the solar in Gainesville was developed under the FIT program.
Hanrahan says the city’s FIT success is clear: “Florida is in a minority of states with no renewable portfolio standard and no consistent incentives or policy supporting renewables. The FIT catapulted Gainesville to #8 in the nation in installed solar per capita. Gainesville also met Kyoto protocol standards at the end of 2013 and is now more than 24% renewable in its power supply. Many would herald these as victories under any policy framework. Renewable energy advocates certainly should.”
The suspension of the Gainesville FIT “is a blow,” Gipe said. “But the City Council said it is because Gainesville reached its solar targets. Germans would have concluded the targets were too low and increased them. Will Gainesville set new targets? I don’t know. Will they implement net metering instead? I doubt it. They introduced FITs to avoid NEM because it took revenues away from the municipal utility’s base. That hasn’t changed.”
On Thursday, commissioners voted 5-2 not to add any additional installations or capacity next year, while saying the decision did not mean a permanent end to the program, which pays a premium for solar generated electricity.
While the utility’s options were being debated, Ed had an opportunity to travel to Germany with the Solar Electric Power Association and learn about their feed-in tariff program. To his surprise, when he presented his findings to the local energy commission, their reply was, “why can’t we do that here?”
After much deliberation, Sun Is The Future is now launching the Renewable-FIT For Sunshine State petition. With this wider-based perspective, we’re hoping to gain greater support and momentum from various sectors of Renewables (Solar-Wind-Wave-Biomass-Geothermal) of the Sunshine State of Florida. The motivation is to ultimately living up to the name of “Sunshine State”, utilizing as much of the renewable resources of our state as possible to transition away from the fossil fuels smoothly and quickly.
I’ve been spending more time learning about Feed-In-Tariff (FIT). Naturally, Gainesville, FL is an important starting point for history of FIT in USA, for it was the first city in USA that adopted FIT (Feed-In-Tariff) via GRU (Gainesville Regional Utility) back in February/March of 2009. So, it was both a pleasure and honor for me to present to you Ed Regan and former Mayor of Gainesville, Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan