Sierra Club Chapter Sponsors Feed-in Tariff Pricing Workshop in San Francisco 13 July, 2010

By Paul Gipe


The Kern-Kaweah Chapter of the Sierra Club is sponsoring a technical workshop on how to accurately set feed-in tariff prices for renewable energy. The workshop will be held at the Sierra Club’s national headquarters in San Francisco, California on 13 July, 2010.

The Sierra Club is the largest grassroots environmental organization in the US, with more than 700,000 members, and has long supported the responsible development of renewable energy.

The Kern-Kaweah Chapter is one of the smallest chapters in the Club. Despite its size, the chapter–located in California’s rapidly growing Kern and Tulare counties–has led the state in forcing massive real-estate developments to include solar energy in new homes. The chapter’s $10,000 grant for the feed-in tariff workshop is the largest in the chapter’s history.

“It’s time California developed a robust renewable energy policy,” said Chapter Chair Georgette Theotig in announcing the grant. “Only feed-in tariffs can do that, but the price has to be right. This workshop can help the Sierra Club find the prices that work best and at least cost to ratepayers. The Kern-Kaweah Chapter is pleased to be able to help achieve this goal.”

The Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter organized a similar price-setting workshop in February 2009 in the state capital, Lansing. That workshop was sponsored by the World Future Council.

The San Francisco workshop is the first technical training session on feed-in tariffs sponsored directly by a Sierra Club chapter.

The workshop will be led by Bernard Chabot, the principal economic consultant to the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association in its campaign for feed-in tariffs in the Canadian province of Ontario. Chabot is also the architect of French wind energy tariffs that vary with resource intensity, and he lectures worldwide on the Profitability Index Method for calculating specific tariffs for solar and wind energy.

The workshop is free, but a reservation is required. The workshop is intended only for those interested in the economic theory behind tariff price-setting and the formulas necessary to calculate tariffs that pay for the cost of generation plus a reasonable profit. The one-day workshop is condensed from a multi-day presentation. Consequently, the workshop assumes that participants are conversant with renewable energy technology as well as the effects return-on-equity, weighted average cost of capital, internal rate of return, interest, and inflation have on the profitability of a renewable energy investment.


Disclosure: Paul Gipe was the Chair of the Sierra Club’s Kern-Kaweah Chapter for two terms in the early 2000s, represented the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club before the Pennsylvania state legislature in the 1970s, and has served on the Club’s national energy committee.

This workshop will train participants in the theory behind what makes a project economic or profitable, and in the use a simple spreadsheet model for calculating profitability. Participants can then use the model to calculate the tariffs needed for the profitable development of a host of different technologies.

The Chabot Profitability Index Method is simpler to use and equally as accurate as the Discounted Cash Flow Model currently used in several jurisdictions in North America.

Participants are expected to come to the workshop with data in hand on current-not future-installed costs of solar PV and wind energy, and to have read the workshop’s supporting documentation.

The Sierra Club is providing the venue for the tariff price-setting workshop.

13 July, 2010
Sierra Club National Headquarters
85 Second St., 2nd Fl.
San Francisco, CA 94105-3441 USA
9.00 am-4.00 pm (Registration begins at 8.30 am)
Please RSVP to Paul Gipe,

Note that there are two back-to-back events in San Francisco on the subject of feed-in tariffs in July. Registration is being handled separately for each event.

  • 12 July, 2010, Feed-in Tariffs: A Time for Real Action on Renewable Energy at the City Club of San Francisco, 155 Sansome Street, 10th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94104 is being organized by Pacific Environment. For registration, contact Rory Cox at Pacific Environment or register directly at Pacific Environment FIT Conference.
  • 13 July, 2010, Chabot Price-Setting Workshop. For registration, contact Paul Gipe.

Background material on the workshop, including an agenda from a similar workshop earlier this year, and documents by Bernard Chabot are listed below.


    • Chabot 2010 Price-Setting Workshops Advanced Preparation–One of the purposes of the workshops is to learn a technique for calculating the tariffs needed to cover the “cost of generation plus a reasonable profit” that is a hallmark of successful feed-in tariff programs. . .