Minnesota Feed-In Tariff Could Boost Renewables and Local Ownership Say Advocates

By Paul Gipe


The Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) has released a policy paper on how Minnesota could dramatically increase the growth of renewable energy while at the same time increasing local ownership by using feed-in tariffs.

The policy brief by John Farrell titled “Minnesota Feed-in Tariff Could Lower Costs, Boost Renewables, and Expand Local Ownership” is part of a grassroots movement of NGOs in Minnesota to put feed-in tariffs on the state’s policy agenda.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Rep. David Bly, DFL-Northfield plans to introduce a bill into the assembly this session calling for European-style feed-in tariffs.

The report is part of ILSR’s New Rules Project intended to aid the “new localism” movement in North America. ILSR’s drive for greater local ownership of renewable generation mirrors that of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA) in Ontario, Canada. OSEA led the successful campaign for feed-in tariffs in Ontario.

Minnesota is the center of North American efforts to increase local ownership of renewable energy. In addition to ILSR, Windustry and Community-Based Energy Development are two other well-known NGOs supporting community ownership of renewable generation.

The report notes that the growth in renewables’ contribution to Minnesota’s electricity supply has stagnated while that in Germany has increased. Not only are renewables growing faster in Germany than in Minnesota, local ownership is greater as well. Farrell, the report’s author, attributes the difference to Germany’s attractive feed-in tariffs.

Farrell goes on to suggest using tariffs proposed by representative Kathleen Law in HB 5218 introduced into the Michigan House of Representatives in the fall of 2007. ILSR’s recommendation is the first time an American NGO outside of Michigan has suggested using the full suite of tariffs proposed in HB 5218.