Feed-in Tariffs: Solar FiT for Gainesville, Florida!

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A Solar Photovoltaic Incentive Policy We Can Believe In.
Which US state will enact the first Feed-in Tariff (FiT)?

Triangulate between Orlando, Jacksonville, and Tallahassee to find Gainesville, Florida USA. Photovoltaic advocates won’t need fancy geometry to locate Gainesville after “Commission gives its approval to feed-in tariff for solar power” by Megan Rolland for The Gainesville Sun.

Per the Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) Friday, February 6, 2009, announcement “Leading the Nation: GRU’s Solar Feed-in-Tariff”, the Gainesville City Commission:

gave unanimous approval last night to adopt a solar photovoltaic feed-in-tariff— the first of its kind in the nation.

Pending expected Florida Public Service commission approval, GRU customers can sign up for the feed-in-tariff as of March 1. Participants signing up during the first two years of the program will be guaranteed a fixed rate of $0.32 per kilowatt hour for 20 years. GRU estimates that investors will see a 5-percent return on investment for large-scale projects.

As the About GRU section of the website explains:

GRU is a multi-service utility owned by the City of Gainesville and is the 5th largest municipal electric utility in Florida.

GRU Assistant General Manager Ed Regan joined a Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) organized fact finding mission in Germany last summer to learn about solar grid integration and accelerating solar adoption with Feed-in Tariffs. Please see the SEPA “Fact Finding Mission to Germany for Utility Decision Makers – Final Report”.

As stated in the City of Gainesville ORDINANCE NO. 080566, the FiT has an annual cap:

The general manager or his/her designee may cease to offer new contracts after a total of 4 MW of solar photovoltaic distributed generation has been connected to the utility system per year, or as safety and reliability of the utility system require, subject to City Commission policy review.

Gainesville’s Solar Feed-in Tariff Program Summary

The progressive action by the City of Gainesville was preceded by the Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy (FARE) conference “Effective Renewable Energy Policies” on February 3, 2009. Speakers and sponsors at the conference included a European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) delegation, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA), MMA Renewable Ventures, Dexia Finance, the World Future Council, the Alliance for Renewable Energy (ARE), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Mayor Hanrahan of Gainesville, Mayor Marks of Tallahassee and Florida Senator Lee Constantine. These are their respective Effective Renewable Energy Policies Presentations.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) was absent from the presenters. Perhaps the SEIA was too busy playing “THE INFLUENCE GAME: Lobbyists work stimulus to end” by Alan Fram with The Associated Press to be troubled with a best practice solar photovoltaic incentive policy?

FiT for California?

Since I posted 1st Solar Symposium: Feed-in Tariff for California First, California has been examining the “existing renewable feed-in tariff of 1.5 MW.” Paul Gipe at Wind-Works.org has the scoop on an upcoming workshop, “California PUC to Hold Workshop on Feed-in Tariffs” or scroll down the California Public Utilities Commission Daily Calendar:

Public Workshop Notice – Renewable Feed-in Tariffs (Revised as of 1/26/09)
February 10, 2009
9:30 am – 4:30 pm

California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue
Courtyard Room
San Francisco, California

Mr. Gipe also presented on behalf of the Wind-Works.org and the Alliance for Renewable Energy at the above FARE conference.

Is there any chance EPIA would consider setting up the North Atlantic Photovoltaic Industry Association and opening a branch office in Washington, DC? The SEIA is in denial regarding Feed-in Tariffs and still doesn’t even mention them on their website as I noted almost a year ago in Feed-in Tariffs: Solar FiT for the USA.

7 comments

  1. Dan says:

    For those of you following the FIT program in Gainesville-
    February 27, 2009

    GRU Achieves First Year Target for Solar Program

    Gainesville, Fla. – Days before Gainesville Regional Utilities officially launches its Solar FIT program, the unique initiative has already reached a significant milestone. GRU announced today that it has received completed applications to install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that in total will be capable of producing approximately 4 megawatts of energy – that’s GRU’s first-year target for the solar program.

    “We are extremely excited about the popularity of the program. Obviously our efforts to stimulate the market and bring more solar projects to the community have been successful,” said Bob Hunzinger, GRU General Manager.

    GRU modeled the Solar FIT program after similar strategies that have been successful in Europe. The program, set for implementation on March 1, guarantees that the utility will buy all of the electricity produced by the PV system at a fixed rate for 20 years. GRU set the initial rate at $0.32 per kilowatt hour for electric customers who sign up during the first two years of the program.

    Now that the utility has reached its target for 2009, Hunzinger said they will continue to accept and approve applications, in the order in which they are received, to fulfill the 2010 target of 4 megawatts. Construction of the PV systems is expected to be spread across the two-year period.

    The rate of $0.32 per kilowatt hour will remain in effect for 2010. GRU will use market data to evaluate and set the rate for 2011. For more information, visit http://www.gru.com.

  2. Thanks to their FIT, Germany produces one half of the world’s solar energy. Florida has three times as much sun. It was about time that we started getting energy-smart.
    Perhaps now I will not move to a more solar-friendly state to do solar installs.

  3. Kevin Murphy says:

    I have first hand knowledge that the GRU managed feed in tariff program is one of the worst ever seen. The structure is deplorable but the Chief, Ed Regan, was too busy holding press conferences and basking in the glow of his new title, “Father of the Feed in Tariff” to notice. Few of the systems reserved will ever be built. GRU is a fine example of how NOT to administer a FIT program! The guys who have the majority of the money tied up have never installed a system in their lives, let alone megawatt scale systems. Give me a break! This could have been a success but has been a colossal failure as a result of ego issues with the executives at GRU

  4. Joe says:

    Obviously, creating a new system is difficult and with the constraints that are on GRU, I think they did a pretty decent job just getting the program started. There were some major issues, but lets hope the new procedures will help out. The FIT will be open again this January for new customers to get into the program. There will also be a residential carve out to prevent the reservations getting gobbled up by the big and slow, so I think that is a big win for Gainesville Residents. Now lets put our money where our mouth is and put in some solar.

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