Sierra Club (USA)Endorses Electricity Feed Law



For immediate release.

For more information contact: Paul Craig at +1 925 370 9729, or Paul Gipe at +1 661 325 9590.

(Tehachapi, California) The Sierra Club has endorsed the use of a nationwide Electricity Feed Law to spur development of wind and solar energy in the United States.

In a brief policy statement, the Sierra Club’s Global Warming and Energy Committee pointed to the success of Electricity Feed Laws in Europe and called for the United States to emulate such programs here as a means to combat climate change.

Electricity Feed Laws, so-called because they allow owners of wind turbines and solar panels to feed surplus generation to the electric utility’s distribution system, have powered a decades-long renewable energy boom in Europe. Denmark, Germany, and Spain have ridden a wave of Electricity Feed Law-driven construction to dominate the world’s multi-billion-dollar wind turbine industry.

Unlike the system in the United States, which also allows feeding surplus wind- and solar-generated electricity into the utility grid, Electricity Feed Laws specify the price paid to producers of wind and solar energy. In the United States, the price is not fixed and in some states utilities refuse to pay for electricity fed into the utility’s network.

“Electricity Feed Laws are one of the most effective policy tools we have for boosting renewable energy development,” says Paul Craig, Chairman of the Sierra Club’s Global Warming and Energy Committee. “While EFLs are not the only mechanism for spurring expansion of wind and solar energy, the Sierra Club acknowledges their success in Europe and urges their adoption in North America.”

“Since 1991 Germany has installed more than 9,000 MW of wind generating capacity and an untold amount from other renewables,” says Paul Gipe, an authority on wind energy. “That’s more than twice the amount installed here and we have more than three times the population of Germany and 26 times the land area.”

Two-thirds of German wind capacity is operated by farmers, homeowners, and small businesses. Germany’s remarkable success with wind energy is due to its ground-breaking Electricity Feed Law. Spain also has also implemented an Electricity Feed Law and now rivals North America in the number of wind turbines operating in the country.

From 1990 through 2000, Germany, Denmark, and Spain, installed nearly 11 times more wind generating capacity than the United States, explains Gipe who attributes the difference to their use of Electricity Feed Laws. “Even France, a nation once committed to nuclear power, has implemented an Electricity Feed Law,” says Gipe.

For more information on the Sierra Club’s endorsement of an Electricity Feed Law for the United States contact:

Paul Craig
Chairman, Sierra Club Global Warming and Energy Committee
+1 925 370 9729


Paul Gipe
Sierra Club Energy Technical Advisory Committee
+1 661 325 9590

What is an Electricity Feed Law?

An Electricity Feed Law in the American context is PURPA (the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act) with a fixed price. Feed Laws not only permit the interconnection of renewable sources of electricity with the grid, but they also specify the price paid. While PURPA permits interconnection, it only describes how the price should be determined, not what price will be paid.


How Does it Work?

Via a public policy debate, society determines a rate to be paid for every kilowatt-hour generated by renewables. This rate varies from one form of renewables to another. Where Feed Laws are used, payment is greater for electricity from photovoltaic panels than it is for wind-generated electricity.

Will it Take for an EFL in the U.S.?

Under existing law any utility can voluntarily pay above avoided cost for generation from qualifying facilities. A full European-style Electricity Feed Law would require Congressional action to amend PURPA. In the meantime, Congress could order the federal power marketing agencies (Bonneville Power Administration, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Western Area Power Administration) to create a standard purchase price for wind, solar, and agricultural biomass.

What is the Sierra Club?

The Sierra Club is North America’s largest member-driven environmental organization. More than 100 years old, the Sierra Club has been a pivotal force in nearly every major environmental issue affecting the United States. The Club has more than 700,000 members in the United States and in Canada. The Sierra Club has long advocated the expanded use of wind and solar energy in North America.