Archive for california feed in tariff

Senate Vote Tentatively Removes Worst of AB 2145

Yesterday’s Senate Vote Tentatively Removes Worst of AB 2145
Late yesterday Assembly Bill 2145 that would crush Community Choice was amended and approved by the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee. Amendments stripped out the worst of the proposed law.

  • The opt-in provision – the biggest worry – was reversed back to opt-out.
  • “Community” was tentatively defined as three contiguous counties to counter the momentum to restrict a Community Choice program to one county.
  • Any city or county that passes a resolution or ordinance prior toDec. 31, 2014, will be grandfathered.

Work on the bill continues as it treks through the State legislature.

Kudos to all who contributed to stopping this bad bill. The enormous upwelling of opposition statewide temporarily blocked the investor-owned utilities like PG&E that are pushing AB 2145. (Photo above shows staff member Woody Hastings as he speaks at yesterday’s press conference at the Capitol.)

The fight isn’t over! Updates and other information are available onwww.no2145.org.

And kudos to The Press Democrat that recently published an editorial and a Close to Home opposing AB 2145:
“Don’t Change the Law on Sonoma Clean Power
“Utilities Attacking Choice Again” by Mark Landman & Natasha Granoff

Proposed Novato solar facility could power 500 Marin homes

MIJ-L-SOLAR-0610-01

Planning commissioners, environmentalists, a city official and members of the public clambered over the rocks at an isolated quarry northwest of Novato Monday, touring a proposed solar facility that could generate enough electricity to power more than 500 Marin homes.

The tour had moments of comedy, as when the breeze from a nearby dairy farm wafted over the group of about 25 people. The quarry was once mined for serpentine rock, which contains asbestos. Quarry operations shut down in 1990.

Crawford Cooley and Beverly Potter, owners of the former quarry, applied for a permit for 4,272 solar panels up to 6 and a half feet high on 11.5 acres of the 952-acre quarry. The $6 million project would generate 1.98 megawatts of electricity, delivered to Marin Clean Energy via nearby power lines.

If approved, it would be the largest source of renewable energy originating in Marin. The second-largest would be Marin Clean Energy’s existing installation at the San Rafael Airport.

“Since this is an old quarry, it (the solar farm) seems like an ideal use of a property that does not lend itself to any other applications. It’s tucked away from everything,” said Frank Gobar. His company, San Rafael-based Danlin Solar, along with San Rafael-based REP Energy, would own and build the solar installation, leasing the land from the owners.

The site is west of the city of Novato, east of Stafford Lake and about a mile north of Novato Boulevard. County staff has recommended that the permit be granted, with some qualifications.

The planning commission is holding a public hearing on the matter June 23 to get public input and decide whether to grant the permit. Monday’s tour gave the commissioners a chance to see the place up front, close and personal.

If the permit is granted, construction could begin as early as mid-August and wrap up by November, according to Gobar.

“I think it’s a great idea, a great way to generate jobs,” said John McEntagart, a Sonoma County resident, who attended the tour. “Local workers, local hire.” McEntagart said he has friends and family in Marin.

The state Office of Mines Reclamation and the Department of Public works oversaw the reclamation of the land since the 1990s, according to the county staff report. The project is exempt from CEQA because it will not cause environmental impacts, the staff report said.

“My job is to work with clients to help them avoid environmental impacts,” said Dana Riggs, a project biologist with San Rafael-based WRA Environmental Consultants. “We planned it (the project) in a manner to avoid impacts on sensitive resources including species and habitat,” Riggs said.

Novato City Councilwoman Pat Eklund attended the tour Monday. She said she felt the solar project was a policy issue.

Solar developer Roy Phillips does paperwork before leading a tour of the site of a proposed solar energy facility on Monday in Novato. He uses a solar

Solar developer Roy Phillips does paperwork before leading a tour of the site of a proposed solar energy facility on Monday in Novato. He uses a solar panel for a table. His company, REP Energy, wants to build the facility on an abandoned quarry near the McIsaac Dairy west of Novato. (frankie frost — marin independent journal)

“This field trip reinforces for me that there needs to be a county policy on when solar units are put in the natural landscape versus the built environment,” Eklund said.

“When you put solar on a roof, that area has development on it already. So it has less of an impact on the environment. Whereas if you put solar in open space or on a farm, it causes more environmental impacts than if you put it over a parking lot or on a building,” Eklund said.

“It could have significant visual impact if it was on a more visible piece of property. Fortunately, that piece of property is a little insulated,” said Eklund. “For me, that’s a policy issue that needs to be decided before major solar farms are installed in our natural environment.”

“The Marin Conservation League has adopted some standards for solar in general,” said Susan Stompe, a member of the board of directors of the League, an environmental group, who also attended the tour.

“Our concern, as with Green Point, is that the county should have an ordinance to define what the requirements should be, and now they are processing another proposal” for a solar installation, Stompe said. “We would prefer that they adopt an ordinance.”

Such an ordinance would be easily two years in the making and would likely kill the present proposed facility.

Green Point was a proposed solar energy farm that was denied a permit by county supervisors in August 2013 when neighbors lobbied vigorously against it based on what they deemed the unattractive appearance of the solar panels.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m for green energy, but I don’t want a solar farm in my backyard,” said David McLaughlin, one of about 100 neighbors who attended the supervisors’ meeting at which that facility was defeated.

LA’s Solar Feed-in Tariff Making A Big Leap

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Los Angeles has long been something of a solar underperformer, given its size and sunny clime. The group Environment California reported that as of late 2011, despite being nearly three times larger than San Diego, LA had less installed solar capacity (37 megawatts to 36 MW) and fewer installations (4,507 to 4,018) than its neighbor to the south. And a 2011 UCLA study found that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was generating less than one-sixth as much solar power per customer as state leader Southern California Edison.

But the city has been taking action to step up its solar game, revamping a broken rebate program and sticking its toe into the feed-in tariff waters with a 10 MW solar pilot program. Now the LADWP is dramatically expanding that feed-in tariff, approving a 100-megawatt program that’s being called be “the largest urban rooftop solar program of its kind in the nation.”

los angeles rooftop solar

image via Shutterstock

A feed-in tariff has been the major tool for Germany in becoming the world’s solar leader. A FIT works by guaranteeing solar power producers a profitable price for the electricity their systems produce. In LA, the Department of Water and Power will offer 17-cent-per-kilowatt-hour contracts for projects at least 30-kilowatts in size (the equivalent of about six typical home rootftop systems), up to a total of 20 megawatts of new installed power every six month.

The program could become even larger in the near future; DWP said in in March it will entertain a lant to add another 50 megawatts to the FIT.

In addition to clean-sourced electricity, advocates say the FIT will be a jobs creator for LA.

“The full 150-megawatt program will be a major economic driver for Los Angeles, creating 4,500 jobs and generating a half-billion dollars in economic activity at full scale, while also eliminating 2.25 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2016,” the DWP said.

Still, as admirable as these moves by LA are, the city has a long way to go in making solar a significant part of its power equation. As Southern California clean-energy blogger Chris Clarke noted, “LADWP can deliver around 7,200 megawatts of power to its customers, meaning that a 100-megawatt FiT, when fully subscribed, will account for less than 1.4 percent of the utility’s generating capacity.”

LIPA approves solar feed-in tariff program

Originally published: June 29, 2012 8:03 PM

By MARK HARRINGTON  mark.harrington@newsday.com

LIPA trustees this week gave formal approval to a new solar program that will encourage construction of commercial solar power plants around Long Island that will sell electricity back to the authority much the way local power plants do, but without the emissions.

Approval of the so-called solar feed-in tariff on Thursday starts the ball rolling for companies and investors to construct mid- to large-size solar farms on commercial and municipal rooftops and other open spaces beginning July 15, when LIPA begins accepting applications.

Several solar installers at a LIPA trustees meeting this week applauded the program, saying it would likely lead to the creation of hundreds of jobs and up to 50 megawatts of combustion-less power. The Long Island Solar Energy Industries Association called it a “substantial and positive” step to building a local renewable energy portfolio. A megawatt of solar energy produces enough electricity to power 125 homes.

The $11.5 million program, paid for by ratepayers at around 44 cents a month, allows companies to negotiate 20-year contracts to sell solar power to LIPA for 22 cents a kilowatt hour. The program is considered ideal for companies with large warehouse roofs, which can accommodate dozens of solar panels.

The program differs from LIPA’s traditional rebate program — which continues — that gives ratepayers refunds of around a third of the cost of solar systems. With a feed-in tariff, there’s no rebate; producers are paid only for the actual energy their systems produce.

While the new solar program has caught the interest of installers and commercial firms, Michael Deering, vice president of environmental affairs at LIPA, said much of the early interest in the program is coming from municipalities.

“I expect we’ll have a significant number of applications come in right out of the box,” he said.

Solar installations provide two benefits to LIPA: They produce peak power on the long, sunny days of summer when LIPA’s system hits its peak. And they are also dispersed around the region, helping to lower stress on the system by cutting the need to pipe plant power to far-flung places.

LIPA enters the peak summer season without one major power source: the 660-megawatt Neptune Cable. The $1.75 billion cable has been out of service since early June because of two related transformer failures. Michael Hervey, LIPA’s operating chief, said a spare transformer is in place and can be used if needed this summer.

The expansion of solar comes as LIPA continues to review around a dozen proposals for new power around Long Island, including new gas-fired plants in Kings Park, Shoreham and Yaphank, and potentially a new cable. LIPA is also renegotiating its power supply agreement with National Grid, which owns 17 former Lilco plants around Long Island, including large steam-generators in Northport, Island Park and Port Jefferson. LIPA this week said a new agreement with National Grid could give it the flexibility to upgrade the plants to new levels of efficiency.

Paul DeCotis, LIPA’s vice president of power markets, said LIPA is considering opening the bidding process for new power sources that are used primarily for peak power, and said solar peaking units could be among the power sources being considered.

 

The value of Marin Clean Energy — choice, rates and local power

By Christopher Martin and Larry Bragman

MARIN CLEAN ENERGY is a public agency that helps electricity consumers take action to protect our planet by offering a way to dramatically reduce environmental impacts.

Any Marin electricity consumer can choose to have their energy needs met with one of MCE’s high value options — Light Green’s 50 percent renewable energy or Deep Green’s 100 percent renewable energy.

Customers may also choose to keep PG&E’s 20 percent renewable energy service.

Due to state actions, historically, investor-owned utilities (IOUs) like PG&E, have been the default service provider with no consumer choice.

In 2002, after PG&E’s bankruptcy, state legislators passed California’s Community Choice Aggregation law, transferring the default status from the IOU to local CCA programs. State law mandates that all CCA programs operate as “opt out” programs.

MCE is California’s first operating CCA, although there are several others in development, and as a result, is in the process of becoming Marin’s default electricity provider.

This is ideal because it puts you, the consumer, in the driver’s seat. Participation with MCE is completely voluntary; consumers are mailed five separate notices so they may freely select their energy provider.

Ultimately, the choice is yours; consumers benefit by finally having a real and meaningful choice in their energy supply.

MCE is proud to offer a cleaner, more sustainable energy product at rates that are stable and affordable. MCE is committed to keeping costs as low as possible.

Beginning July 1 2012, it’s estimated that 50 percent renewable energy will cost an average household approximately $2.50 more per month as compared to PG&E’s 20 percent renewable energy.

An average commercial customer can expect to pay approximately $3.31 less in a summer month and $4.67 more in a winter month for MCE’s 50 percent renewable energy.

A rate calculator will soon be available on MCE’s website for account-specific cost analysis.

MCE values public participation and transparency. Rates are developed, discussed, evaluated and approved locally at accessible public meetings. MCE invites you to attend and provide feedback.

Regularly scheduled meetings occur on the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. (750 Lindaro St. in San Rafael).

As a local, community-based organization, MCE reinvests revenues to provide greater rate stability and greener energy to its ratepayers, rather than investor dividends.

A portion of the funds MCE customers spend on their electricity bill stay in Marin to fund programs such as:

• Installing electric vehicle-charging stations;

• Distributing $500 solar or energy efficiency rebates;

• Supporting local community events, youth sports and nonprofit organizations; and

• Developing local, renewable energy projects.

MCE recently signed a 20-year contract with the San Rafael Airport for 972 kilowatts of rooftop solar power, the largest solar project in Marin, and is developing plans for a 1 megawatt solar shade covered parking lot in Marin.

The airport project, which will cover 48 existing roofs, was designed locally by REP Energy and will be financed locally through the Bank of Marin. It will result in approximately 25 local jobs over a 3 month period and is scheduled to provide power for MCE customers by fall 2012.

The 1 megawatt solar project, which will cover about eight acres of already-existing parking lots providing shade for cars and electricity for MCE customers, is scheduled to be operational in March 2014.

MCE provides worthwhile value for a small premium. The increased renewable energy procured by MCE means less dependence on foreign and domestic fossil fuels, a reduced carbon footprint, community support and development, and new green energy.

The choice, as always, remains with the consumer and that’s a win-win situation “… for us, our kids, our environment, and our future.

California Feed-in Tariff for Poor Communities Passes Assembly

May 31, 2012

By Paul Gipe

A bill to create feed-in tariffs for the poor and the disadvantaged passed the California Assembly on 30 May 2012.

The “Solar for All” bill, AB 1990, passed the House by a vote of 49 to 27 and was reported to the Senate.

The move is the first significant action on feed-in tariffs in California during this legislative session. It is also the first time in North America that advocates for the poor and disadvantaged have called for equal opportunity to develop renewable energy through the use of feed-in tariffs.

Introduced by Paul Fong (D-Cupertino), the bill would create feed-in tariffs for 375 MW of small-scale renewable generation that would be specifically designed for disadvantaged communities.

The bill is sponsored by the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA).

CEJA’s bill has received support from some 70 non-governmental organizations that includes a who’s who of the California environmental and social justice community, including Sierra Club California, Union of Concerned Scientists, Natural Resources Defense Council, Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), and Environment California.

Though CEJA dubs the legislation “Solar for All”, the bill itself calls for “clean energy contracts” from all “eligible renewable energy resources” in California.

  • Project size cap: 500 kW
  • Program cap: 375 MW by 2020 at a “regular annual pace”
  • Term: minimum of 20 years
  • Program launch: 2014
  • Tariffs: “sufficient to stimulate the market” in low-income communities, create a diverse range of project sizes and achieve the environmental justice objectives
  • Reporting: annual
  • Administration and Rate Setting: Public Utility Commission (PUC) & local public utilities
  • Cost recovery: ratepayers
  • Cost cap: 0.375% of forecast retails sales in 2020
  • “Eligible” Technologies: Solar Thermal Electric, Photovoltaics, Landfill Gas, Wind, Biomass, Geothermal Electric, Municipal Solid Waste, Energy Storage, Anaerobic Digestion, Small Hydroelectric, Tidal Energy, Wave Energy, Ocean Thermal, Biodiesel, Fuel Cells using Renewable Fuels

It is not clear whether AB 1990 directs the PUC to set tariffs in two bands for those living in disadvantaged communities who can use federal tax subsidies and those who cannot. The bill only notes that the PUC is to take this into account during its deliberations.

AB 1990 contains a potentially onerous provision requiring that each renewable generator be “inspected” by a licensed contractor every two years.

Though utilities are obligated to provide “expedited interconnection,” they are exempted from the act’s requirements if they claim the grid is “inadequate”, that the generator doesn’t meet the utility’s interconnection requirement, or that the “aggregate of all small-scale renewable generating facilities on a distribution circuit would adversely impact utility operation and load restoration efforts of the distribution system”

Despite these limitations, the introduction alone of AB 1990 by CEJA should put to rest concerns that feed-in tariffs are a regressive form of taxation that penalize the poor. Rather, environmental justice organizers see feed-in tariffs as a more equitable policy tool than existing California programs for developing renewable energy.

CEJA: Solar for All Passes Assembly

AB 1990 Bill Status

AB 1990 Bill History

AB 1990

California Watch: Solar rooftops sought in poor communities

What’s New on Feed-in Tariffs

  • California Feed-in Tariff for Poor Communities Passes Assembly–A bill to create feed-in tariffs for the poor and the disadvantaged passed the California Assembly on 30 May 2012. The “Solar for All” bill, AB 1990, passed the House by a vote of 49 to 27 and was reported to the Senate. . .
  • Canadian Auto Workers: WTO Called Upon to Dismiss Japan, EU Challenge to Ontario Renewable Energy Policy–Canadian NGOs and labour unions, including the CAW, have sent an amicus curiae submission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) prior to a May 15 hearing into Japan’s and the European Union’s joint attack on the Ontario Green Energy Act. . .
  • Japan Times: Leveling the field for renewables–The government has drawn up a design for Japan’s feed-in tariff system to promote the generation of electricity through renewable energy sources. In a nutshell, it has decided the prices at which the nation’s major power companies buy such electricity and the duration of contracts. In principle they must buy all such energy. It is hoped that this system, expected to take effect in July, will help expand the generation and use of renewable energy, and accelerate advances in related technologies. Electricity fees may rise. The government should fully explain the need for the system and how it will work. . .
  • Karl-Friedrich Lenz’s analysis of Japan’s Feed-in Tariffs–The second fundamental flaw is the fact that the proposal doesn’t distinguish between onshore and offshore wind. That difference has a rather large influence on cost. Therefore, German law pays 8.93 cents for onshore and 15 cents for offshore wind. . .
  • Chronicle Herald: Nova Scotia Plans to Tap into Tidal Energy with FITs–Energy Minister Charlie Parker said his department will ask the province’s Utility and Review Board later this year to begin the process of setting a rate, or feed-in tariff, for the companies working on development projects in the Bay of Fundy. . .
  • Anglican Diocese of Oxford: Solar Feed-in Tariff put on a “predictable, certain and sustainable footing”–Churches exploring solar pv should note that buildings with an Energy Performance Certificate rating of less than D will get a reduced tariff rate. Calls have previously been made to examine possible exemptions from this and the national Church of England Shrinking the Footprint campaign has been responding to the consultation and having discussions with DECC with particular emphasis on the issues for churches in achieving an A – D rated Energy Performance Certificate. It is, however, possible to wire panels on one building into another which is easier to upgrade e.g panels on a church roof wired into a church hall. . .
  • Malaysian Reserve: RE industry may see change in feed-in-tariff, says SEDA–The Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) is looking at adjusting the feed-in-tariff (FiT) for renewable energy (RE) before it calls for the next round of quote in July/ August 2012 as there is an imbalance in the RE resource mix. At a recent talk on renewable energy updates, SEDA chief executive officer Badriyah Abdul Malek highlighted that almost half of the installed capacity for RE being generated, since the beginning of the FiT on Dec 1, 2011, was using solar energy which could be a “wrong signal” for the market. . .
  • Vermont Ups Feed-in Tariff Program Cap Slightly–Vermont’s Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill into law 18 May 2012 that slightly increases the cap on the state’s Standard Offer Contract program. Senate Bill 214 extends the small existing 50 MW program by a modest amount. . .
  • Saudi Arabia Launches Massive Renewable Program with Hybrid FITs–While North America continues to dawdle on the road to the renewable revolution, the conservative, oil-rich Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has proposed one of the most sweeping and massive moves to renewable energy on the planet. . .

Nuclear Power, Japan, Feed-in Tariffs, and the Rapid Development of Renewables

  • Andrew Dewit: A Crossroads for Japan: Revive Nuclear or Go Green?–May 5 marked the shutdown of the last of Japan’s 50 viable nuclear reactors, with poor prospects for any restarts before the summer. The central government, the nuclear industry, most big business associations, and many international observers seem convinced that this will invite chaos through escalating fossil fuel costs and the risk of blackouts. But polls suggest a growing segment of the Japanese population see things differently. . .
  • Mainichi: Atomic Energy panel members call for independent probe into secret meetings–Some members of a Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) panel working out new nuclear energy policy have called for a third-party probe into revelations that business operators in favor of the nuclear fuel cycle project were invited to secret meetings before an assessment was altered to help promote the project. . .
  • Guardian: Only renewables – not nuclear – could be too cheap to meter–Germany’s long support for wind and solar energy is delivering zero-cost electricity at times. In contrast, the UK’s new energy policy seeks to underwrite the rising cost of nuclear. . .

 

What’s New on Solar Energy

 

What’s New on Community Power

  • Renewable Energy Tour to Germany & the World Wind Energy Conference 2012–The Ontario Sustainable Energy Association is leading a tour to renewable energy sites in Germany June 30 to July 8 including participation in the World Wind Energy Association Conference in Bonn, and visits to a biogas plant, a wind turbine manufacture, community-owned wind turbines, a leading research institute on grid integration, and a solar power plant. . .
  • Aaron Bartley: Community Power vs. the Kochs–In Germany, where the stranglehold of corporate energy has been loosened, renewables now comprise 20 percent, of national energy production, thanks to national policies such as feed-in tariffs which guarantee a stable price for power produced by wind, solar and geothermal systems. More than half of German energy is now produced in decentralized sites like homes, farms and community co-ops. This trend toward distributed generation conflicts directly with the corporate energy paradigm of centralized control. The German model shows that national policies can have a transformative impact that both increases overall renewable energy production while placing ownership in the hands of farmers, small businesses and homeowners. . .
  • Mount Alexander Community Wind–Mount Alexander Community Wind is a community driven project seeking to establish a locally owned and operated wind plant to supply a significant portion of the energy needs of our Shire. Clean renewable energy will be generated to replace energy derived from burning non-renewable coal. . .

 

What’s New on Wind Energy


This feed-in tariff news update is sponsored by the , An Environmental Trust, and the David Blittersdorf Family Foundation in cooperation with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. The views expressed are those of Paul Gipe and are not necessarily those of the sponsors.



JCM Capital Launches $10,000,000 Solar Development Capital Fund for FIT Projects in Ontario, Canada

TORONTO, Apr 24, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) — JCM Capital (JCM) announced today that they have launched a $10 million solar development capital fund that will invest in early-stage photovoltaic (PV) projects installed on large commercial and industrial buildings across Ontario, leveraging the Province’s Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) program. The aim of the fund is to target application-ready projects to be submitted into the upcoming Ontario Power Authority’s (OPA) application window, and as such, assist with early-stage development costs such as FIT application fees, structural engineering assessments, FIT security deposits and grid connection impact assessment (CIA) costs. The fund will also invest in Ontario-based FIT contracted projects that have not yet reached commercial operation.

CEO of JCM, Christian Wray stated that despite the recent changes to the Province’s Green Energy Program, the fund will ensure that necessary capital is available for quality projects that meet the requirements of the revised FIT 2.0 program. “JCM has and will continue to support the small to mid-size solar market in Ontario with the belief that our investment in distributed solar power generation will provide the maximum benefit to all stakeholders. The fund creates a unique solution for local PV development companies that have few options when funding early-stage projects that require significant risk capital.” Wray also noted that JCM has a strong track record in working with solar developers in Ontario and looks forward to partnering with and supporting other experienced developers as the program continues.

To date JCM has successfully deployed over $5 million of development capital, enabling the advancement of an initial 20MW commercial rooftop solar portfolio. When completed, the aggregate construction costs of this initial portfolio will exceed $80 million and will offset approximately 20,000 tons of harmful C02 from being released into the earth’s atmosphere – the equivalent of planting 2 million trees or removing 60,000 cars from the road.

The fund will also help create further jobs in accordance with the Province’s Green Energy Act initiative.

For more information, please visit www.jcmcapital.ca

About JCM Capital (JCM)

JCM Capital is a financial advisory company that focuses primarily on financing and the co-development of solar energy projects in Ontario, Canada. The Company provides commercial solar energy developers early-stage development capital and/or equity financing solutions for ‘construction-ready’ and operational solar projects while offering strategic and project management support. Current portfolios include rooftop and ground-mounted projects spanning from Southwestern to Eastern Ontario. The Company is looking to expand it’s reach through the cultivation of new partnerships and associations.

SOURCE: JCM Capital

Thiele Solar Proposal Included In NY-Sun Initiative Announced By Governor

Sag Harbor – New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (I, D, WF-Sag Harbor) applauded Governor Andrew Cuomo for establishing a solar feed-in tariff plan for the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), similar to the one he proposed in 2009, as part of his NY-Sun proposal to increase the generation of solar power in New York State.

Thiele stated, “If we are to be truly energy independent and reduce energy costs on Long Island, we must provide incentives to encourage the production of solar and other alternative sources of energy. The establishment of a feed-in tariff program is a market-based strategy to do just that. Rather than provide cash rebates to install solar, here LIPA would pay an incentive for the power produced by solar power to encourage the development of solar infrastructure.”

Thiele’s proposal, first introduced in 2009, would have directed LIPA to establish a feed-in tariff program. Under the Thiele proposal, LIPA would have been authorized to purchase up to 100 megawatts of electricity under the program. Thiele’s bill set an initial tariff of 32 cents per kilowatt hour and a 20 year contract for solar producers. LIPA could adjust the tariff due to market conditions no more than once every two years.

Under the proposal announced by LIPA and the Governor last week, 50 megawatts would be purchased by LIPA and the tariff would be 22 per kilowatt hour.

Thiele stated, “Not only will this program encourage the rapid and sustainable development of electricity from renewable sources, it will create green jobs on Long Island. The German solar energy industry created over 50,000 jobs in less than five years, with the entire renewable energy industry creating as many as 200,000. More than 25,000 solar energy workers are employed in Spain. In Gainesville, Florida, a surge of capital investment in community solar systems has been experienced and local contractors have been hiring to meet demand. A solar feed-in tariff program will provide a simple and transparent means for solar investments to earn reasonable and reliable returns, allowing capital to flow into clean and renewable energy systems. My only reservation is that LIPA may have initially set the tariff too low to encourage investment. Hopefully, they will adjust to market conditions to make the program successful.”

From the office of Assemblyman Fred Thiele

LA launches feed-in tariff pilot

LA launches feed-in tariff pilot

Apr 23, 2012

Los Angeles is becoming the latest city in the U.S. to adopt a feed-in tariff (FiT) to spread the adoption of solar. It’s also likely the largest. Last week the city’sLos Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Board of Water and Power Commissioners at its municipal utility, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) approved the city’s 10 megawatt FiT pilot program.

Under the FiT building or PV array owners are paid for the power their system produces at a premium to what they system owner normally pays for electricity. “The rate for energy will be based on the bid price of energy multiplied by the time-of-delivery factors as described in the FiT guidelines,” said a LADWP spokesperson who preferred not to be named.

Projects will be accepted based on a competitive bidding process. Preference will be given to projects with lower costs of energy, according to LADWP.

The FiT is open to residents, businesses and nonprofits, according to the spokesperson. “LADWP will make available a total of 10 megawatts for the entire demonstration program. Individual projects can be between 30kW to 999kW (AC) in size,” the spokesperson said. “The only criteria is that the project must be located in the LADWP service area.”

Systems could also be owned by third parties like solar leasing companies. “LADWP is leaving it up to the program participants to set up the ownership structure.”

The demonstration program is a precursor to larger FiT program that LADWP plans to issue as it adds more solar energy into its renewable portfolio to meet California’s renewable energy portfolio standards. The utility is required to source 33 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2020.

The latter FiT program could range from 75 megawatts to 150 megawatts and should launch relatively quickly, according to the spokesperson. “LADWP would like to roll out the final  FiT program in phases starting in January 2013 which is contingent on positive outcome of rate proposal.” The size of the larger program will be based at least partly on the success of the demonstration project.

Can Ontario require ‘domestic content’ for FIT eligibility?

By:  Cheryl Kaften

Just how important is “home advantage” to players in the renewable energy sector? It could be a game changer, according to Japan and the European Union, both of which have brought complaints against Canada for violating the rules of fair competition.

80MW Sarnia Solar photovoltaic thin film Ontario project

Nothing in the renewable energy industry has challenged the scale of the iPhone to date. However, Corning Glass represents proof positive that, yes, it matters where the components are manufactured.

First Solar

Specifically, Japan and the EU have protested to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva that the Canadian Province of Ontario is breaching international convention by stipulating that new solar and wind facilities must be built with a certain amount of domestically manufactured components. For example, solar arrays must be 60 percent “Made in Ontario” in order to participate in the province’s feed-in-tariff (FIT) scheme.

Both nations claim Ontario is discriminating against its global trade partners and giving preferential treatment to local providers. The two cases in all likelihood will lead to a landmark ruling on the legitimacy of “domestic content requirements” in international commerce.

To grasp the implications of insisting on largely domestic-made products, consider how much U.S. manufacturers would gain by the passage of a 60 percent domestic content regulation applying to the components of the Apple iPhone alone, which today is manufactured chiefly in China.

Since the launch of the iPhone in 2007, Corning Glass has manufactured the scratchproof face of the phone out of a factory in Kentucky. Not only has Corning created jobs and profits by becoming a domestic supplier to California-based Apple, but, after the iPhone became a success, Corning received a flood of orders from other companies hoping to imitate Apple’s designs. Its glass sales have grown to more than US$700 million annually, and it has employed about 1,000 Americans to support the emerging market.

Nothing in the renewable energy industry has challenged the scale of the iPhone to date. However, Corning Glass represents proof positive that, yes, it matters where the components are manufactured.

Imports on the outs?

Japan and the EU claim that Canada is in violation of three international trade agreements, because:

  • Ontario’s domestic content regulations accord “less favorable treatment to imported equipment” and are “being applied so as to afford protection to Ontario production of such equipment” (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade [GATT]: Art. III:4, III:5, XXIII:1);
  • Ontario’s domestic content stipulations appear to be trade-related investment measures that are inconsistent with the provisions of Article III of the GATT 1994 (Trade-Related Investment Measures [TRIMs]: Art. 2.1); and
  • A subsidy had been granted … that would confer a benefit, “contingent [on] the use of domestic over imported goods” (Subsidies and Countervailing Measures: Art. 3.1(b), 3.2, 1.1).

Tensions – and world interest – ran high when the two nations faced off with Canada for oral arguments on March 27 and 28 in Geneva. The key issues to be considered: Was Canada liable to the world court for the independent actions of its province, Ontario?; Were the content requirements of the FIT Program a barrier to fair trade?; and Did Ontario discriminate in favor of domestic goods with subsidies designed to promote production in the province, rather than designed to advance the renewable energy industry?

Canada responded with a rationale that was geared to render all three questions moot. It characterized the FIT scheme as a form of “government procurement, designed to ensure the affordable generation of clean energy in Ontario” – and, by doing so, attempted to shield the FIT and its domestic content mandate from both the GATT and TRIMs provisions. (Government procurement is also exempt from the WTO Subsidies and Countervailing Measures agreement, provided that it does not confer a benefit.)

And although governmental purchases are covered under another WTO pact – the plurilateral Government Procurement Agreement – Canada argued that the GPA represents a purely national commitment. Therefore, Ontario was under no obligation to grant access to its energy procurement market.

However, Tokyo and Brussels insisted that the program provides a subsidy. “The defining aspect of FIT contracts is that they ensure renewable energy generators payments in excess of those that they would [otherwise] receive,” argued the Japanese Member, adding, “That excess is best confirmed by examining the difference between the FIT rates and HOEP [Hourly Ontario Energy Price], as HOEP represents the entire rate” on the open market.

Ottawa was quick to eliminate any associated wiggle room. The Canadian Member characterized the HOEP as “an inappropriate benchmark” and opined that “the focus of any benefit analysis must be on the recipients of the benefit – wind and solar energy producers – not consumers.”

Court of public opinion

Industry reaction to the WTO hearing has been mixed. David Robinson, president of Senergy Solar Corp., LLC, based in Haverton, Pennsylvania, supported Canada’s mandate for domestic content. He told pv magazine, “I wish that the U.S. government would impose the same sort of content requirements here. Then, we would have solar companies moving here, instead of up north to Canada.”

Stephen Morgan, CEO of American Clean Energy, a Saddle Brook, New Jersey-based firm that designs and builds photovolatic arrays, came out against the content requirements. He commented to pv magazine, “The use of content restrictions has nothing to do with promotion of environmentally sustainable energy; rather it is about … subsidizing job creation in a non-transparent manner through otherwise higher-than-necessary alternative energy costs.”

By contrast, Matthew Ayres, managing director of Sydney, Australia-based Growth and Innovation Asia-Pacific, advised a more measured approach, telling pv magazine, “A strong bias toward import may reduce the domestic capability base. A strong domestic focus may limit the use of new (international) technology and skills. So, we are left with a prudent balance that respects the domestic economy, the ability to build a sustainable domestic capability in renewable energy; then bringing the best skills and technology to the table in a way that expands the market in a structured and staged manner.”

Getting the proper FIT

There are now more than 35 FIT programs worldwide. Will this case have repercussions for any other feed-in tariffs currently in place?  That’s unlikely, unless they invoke a domestic content clause. Canada’s Province of Nova Scotia, for example, has its own FIT scheme, but has not been named in any complaint.

How the case plays out remains to be seen. By the end of April, the parties must submit written rebuttals to the panel, which will then schedule a second oral hearing. A ruling on the case is not expected until late October 2012.

Watch out for the May edition of pv magazine, which will discuss the issue in more detail.