Make no mistake, the innocuous sounding title of this academic paper harbors an intellectual assault on public policy created by long-held beliefs in neoliberal ideology. Mormann certainly will not endear himself to AWEA, SEIA, SEPA and the alphabet soup of K Street lobbyists with his unambiguous call to end tax credits: “In light of the conceptual superiority of a feed-in tariff over the current tax credit regime, tax incentive support for US renewables should be phased out as the feed-in tariff goes online.”
The intersection of electricity and solar prices and the need for new policy provides an opportune moment to consider changing American solar policy to match what is used in the most advanced solar economies. Three of the top four solar nations and nearly 90% of the world’s solar capacity has been installed with a policy called a feed-in tariff.4
This week, a coalition of companies that provide leasing contracts for solar to home and business customers declared war on this “value of solar” policy, and pretty much every financial model for compensating solar energy producers that isn’t net metering. . . including feed-in tariffs.
In other words, we pay twice for bad solar policy in America. Complicated tax incentive, interconnection, and contract policy makes solar cost more to install than in mature markets like Germany. Solar leasing middlemen simplify the complications, but at a price premium to (complicated) individual ownership.
Maybe the electric utilities are right, for a change. Maybe net-metering—the ability to run your kilowatt-hour meter backwards, with solar panels on your roof or a windmill in your backyard–is not the best policy for America, or for Americans.
Evidence suggests that FITs, where they are offered, can be at least as popular with customers as net-metering and that FITs have supported the deployment of a more balanced mix of resources than net-metering tariffs.
There are many ways the federal government could improve its policy toward renewable energy. A CLEAN Contract or feed-in tariff could supplant tax credits that act as a barrier to production-based payment for energy and avoid paying for panels that don’t produce power. . .
Virginia’s largest electric utility is launching a feed-in tariff for solar energy – but will it work?
Feed-in tariffs, the terminology at least, has come of age. The term can now be found in a prolific English … Read more
Another useful report by ILSR on feed-in tariffs (CLEAN Programs) that I may have missed. As ILSR says, while late to the game, Americans are finally in the game. In 2012, all or part of fourteen American states have adopted CLEAN contracts for renewable energy. Many more are in development.