Representative Jay Inslee (D-WA) has introduced legislation to establish a feed-in tariff (FIT) for renewable energy. Feed-in tariffs have made Germany a solar powerhouse that employs 40,000 people in the solar industry alone, and an estimated 140,000 jobs in renewable energy. FITs have not been a topic of discussion in this country, but now that is sure to change, as the conversation shifts to ways to finance the growth of renewable energy. Renewable Energy World reports that:
“Inslee’s legislation would require utilities — at the request of any new renewable energy facility owner — to enter into a 20-year fixed-rate power purchase agreement. Uniform national “renewable energy payment” rates would be set by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at levels that would provide a 10% internal rate of return on investment for available commercialized technologies in regions constituting the top 30th percentile of renewable energy resource potential in the U.S..”
In plain English, this means that if you install solar PV panels on your home, the utility has to buy the electricity you generate at a higher rate than retail, guaranteeing you a return on your investment. Extending this power purchase agreement for 20 years gives everyone — especially those who want to invest in renewables or start a small business installing solar panels — assurance of return on their investment.
In Germany this has motivated citizens and businesses to put up solar panels wherever they can, allowing Germany to get 14.2 percent of its energy from renewable sources. Though Inslee’s legislation has little hope of getting through this Congress (they are still stalling on renewing the existing solar energy tax credits), FITs will surely be in the news more as the election season heats up.
Image Credit: Carol Gulyas