There’s a renewable energy policy with a record of incredible success, so why aren’t we using it in America? This paper briefly explores the history of feed-in tariffs (FITs) in Europe – the rise and fall of this policy in Denmark and the rise and rise of FITs in Germany – and then outlines why it would be a much simpler, more cost-effective, and better economic driver for reaching America’s renewable energy goals. Continue reading
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Obama’s plan for a "national smart grid" needs closer examination. An expanded national grid would be anything but smart. In the New York Times, Al Gore insists the new president should give the highest priority to "the planning and construction of a unified national smart grid. "President Barack Obama, responding to a question by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, declares that one of "the most important infrastructure projects that we need is a whole new electricity grid … a smart grid."
Tax Reform and Community Based Renewable Energy By John Farrell, originally published in Renewable Energy World, February 5, 2009 The federal tax credits for renewable energy have been a major barrier to widespread ownership of renewable energy. The production tax credit, for example, can only be taken against passive income, a type of income that… Continue reading
As part of the 2002 Omnibus Tax Bill (Laws of Minnesota 2002, Chapter 377) the legislature has changed the way wind energy projects are taxed. From now on, wind energy projects in Minnesota will be exempt from property taxes and instead will be required to pay local taxing districts a direct payment based on the electricity production from the wind turbines. The tax is on a sliding-scale based on the size of the wind energy project. Continue reading
In May 2004, San Francisco adopted an Energy Independence Ordinance using California’s Community Choice Aggregation law (Laws of California 2002 Chapter 838) as a purchasing and ratesetting authority, and will issue revenue bonds, called H Bonds, to finance a 360 MW public works project. The energy projects would be equivalent to more than a third of the city’s electrical capacity needs and on average would supply about 14 percent of the city’s electric consumption (MWhs) without arate increase. Continue reading
Ohio was the second state in the nation to offer community choice. Its community choice provision is modeled after that in Massachusetts’ 1997 electric restructuring law. Ohio has given local governments the right, after a vote by their city council, to become the default supplier. Continue reading
Massachusetts was the first deregulated state to decide that the town or city should be the default supplier in the event that customers do not choose a new electric supplier. Individual customers are always free to opt out and choose their own supplier, but if they do nothing their community represents them. Continue reading
Because customer-owned utilities are democratic and locally controlled, and service rather than profit oriented, we should encourage their formation. In today’s topsy-turvy electricity world, states should encourage the formation not only of customer-owned distribution utilities, but public transmission utilities and generation utilities as well.
New Jersey was first state in the country to ban large tractor-trailers from its state roads and highways. The restriction, went into effect in July 1999, confined large trucks (more than 102 inches wide) that were not doing business in the state to interstate highways and the National Network, a system of major highways and connector roads. Continue reading
Vermont, Oregon, Gainesville, FL, and the Canadian province of Ontario have recently adopted feed-in tariffs for renewable energy, allowing any prospective renewable energy producer will get a guaranteed connection to the grid, a long term contract to sell their power, and a fixed price sufficient to recover their costs plus a reasonable profit. We believe that feed-in tariffs could turbocharge state level renewable electricity standards, reduce costs, and spread the economic benefits across many more project owners.