Earlier this month, Governor Schwarzenegger signed legislation to buy solar power from relatively small private generators for rates above market value. Hawaii is next in line with this European-style tariff — the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission and Governor Lingle just recently set a similar initiative for Hawaii.
Hawaii’s initiative will make it possible for homeowners and businesses to sell power they generate from small to medium-scale renewable energy projects (i.e. solar panels) to Hawaii’s main power producers at higher than market-value rates.
The rates for this new feed-in tariff are yet to be announced, but it is clear now that these small-scale power providers can get a fixed price for 20 years for the power they produce and sell.
As a major user of fossil-fuel-based energy (the most oil-dependent state in the US), this is a good step to help break their dependency. Other places in the United States that already have some form of feed-in tariff or another are California (most recently), Gainesville (Florida), Vermont (but only with a standard rate), and Wisconsin (but only through specific utilities and for certain technologies).
Hawaiian Electric Co. (HEC) is one of the power companies who will be buying the electricty and is completely on board with this idea. HEC actually set a goal recently to have 70% of its energy come from renewable resources by 2030 — it is currently at 10%.
Another benefit of this program is that it will help potential renewable energy installers find out how much money they would make before they install something. Rather than making it difficult for potential installers to jump through the bureaucratic hoops, this new law is giving them more support and making the whole process smoother.
Jeff Mikulina, executive director of the Blue Planet Foundation, says: “By removing some uncertainty in the clean energy marketplace, Hawaii’s feed-in tariff gives green power the green light.” This is a great move to help the most oil-dependent state in the country become greener and cleaner. It should also help to create new green collar jobs in Hawaii and stabilize electricity rates there.
Great move by Hawaii!
Image Credit 1: JPhilipson via flickr under a Creative Commons license
Image Credit 2: ilovepics11 via flickr under a CC license
Image Credit 3: JPhilipson via flickr under a CC license