US solar FiTs under fire following Florida tariff suspension

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

Pro-solar group the Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) has questioned the viability of the feed-in tariff (FiT) model for residential solar in the US following the suspension of a FiT scheme in Gainesville, Florida.

Gainesville’s seven-man City Commission voted five-to-two in favour of suspending the FiT programme in the week leading up to Christmas 2013. The programme offered 20-year tariffs for PV installations in three classes ranging from installations of less than 10kW capacity, up to 1,000kW.

According to local news sources, commissioner Todd Chase said that extra solar generating capacity was not needed by the municipal utility the commission represented, that customers did not need it and that it was not needed on the grid. Commissioner Chase also cited the city’s high utilities rates and the fact that the city had already met set carbon reduction targets early in 2012 in his argument for suspending the programme.

TASC, which focuses its activities on the residential market, is strongly in favour of net metering programmes of the type which exists in 43 US states, in contrast to its stance on FiT programmes.

In an interview with PV Tech, TASC co-chair Bryan Miller said that the “failure” of the Gainesville FiT, which was introduced in 2009, was “a real moment that FiT advocates are going to have to explain”. Miller is also vice president of public policy and power markets at residential installer SunRun.

Miller said: “I think this is a big moment in the sweep of renewable [energy] discussions that have been going on for years on whether feed-in tariffs or net metering is the right way to go. The Gainesville FiT has received an enormous amount of press over the years and has often been presented by FiT advocates as the ‘model policy’ – and the Gainesville FiT is now gone.

“What’s happened is exactly what those of us on the other side of this issue have warned about: FiTs are not stable. They are subject to constant manipulation by utilities and unelected bureaucrats. You can’t build businesses around environments like that. Solar installers in Gainesville don’t have businesses this morning and that’s as real as it gets in terms of the impact of public policy.”

Miller went on to say that TASC was not against the principle of FiTs as a means of “jump-starting” the solar market.

“I want to be very clear that FiTs served a role in history; there was a time when they jump-started the market. They were the foundation of the modern PV market, we’re not disputing that. German and western European FiTs created a demand signal that allowed manufacturers to scale up. The fact is we’ve moved beyond the place where we need overpay for solar to get solar built,” he said.

When asked to respond to commissioner Todd Chase’s comment that the power was not needed on the grid or to meet carbon dioxide reduction targets Miller said it was an “honest comment” from the commission’s point of view but also explained why he and TASC felt it exemplified some of the problems with residential FiT programmes for the US market.

“That comment gets to the fundamental problem with FiTs. Instead of people being able to serve their own load, be their own power company, to generate power to use in their own house, everything has to be under these handcuffs of what the utility wants, what the utility is willing to buy. It takes away the right of people to build power for their own consumption. A FiT says you have to sell all your energy to the utility. That’s not an American way of doing business. We have a long history of self-reliance and that’s why net metering is the American Way.”

On the subject of the carbon dioxide reduction targets being met early Miller said: “The bureaucrats have come up with another reason – artificial regulatory constraints – why they don’t want people to generate solar. What’s missing from that logic entirely is the right of people to generate their own power. When people are generating their own power they’re not basing it off utility procurement targets or carbon reduction targets.

“Gainesville would’ve benefited from a net metering programme. Let’s look at the whole of Florida. They’re called the ‘Sunshine State’. Florida politicians should do one of two things: they should decide to do more solar and adopt policies that will allow that, or they should change the nickname of the state, they should do one of the two.”

19 August 2021
The utility-scale PV market is poised for exponential growth and yet the industry still has many fundamental opportunities to improve on standards and best practice. Tracker shade loss has been one of those topics that deserve more attention, but has been typically handled by derate factors rather than trying to accurately forecast the loss over the life of the system. Join Nextracker’s subject matter experts, Aron Dobos and Neelesh Umachandran, and Rounak Kharait, director of solar energy assessments at DNV, for a webinar about why shade modeling matters and recommendations on what the solar industry should do about it.
25 August 2021
Energy Next is a new industry exhibition focusing on the latest renewable energy and energy efficiency technology, which will be held for the first time in 2021 in Sydney, Australia alongside the Clean Energy Council’s Australian Clean Energy Summit, the peak gathering of leaders driving Australia's energy transformation. Organised by the same people behind Australia’s largest clean energy event, All-Energy Australia, Energy Next will give visitors two days of access to key suppliers in the industry, free-to-attend professional development and industry workshops, and networking opportunities to better understand clean energy issues and solutions and learn about the latest developments in this transformational, dynamic sector.
25 August 2021
The Intersolar Summit Brasil Nordeste takes place in Fortaleza, Brazil. It addresses leading local and international experts on solar power and renewable energy in the region. The Summit’s mission is to provide in-depth education, enable high-quality networking opportunities, expand the use of PV technologies at regional and national level and strengthen the local PV industry. The Intersolar Summit Brasil Nordeste is organized by Intersolar South America - Latin America’s largest exhibition and conference for the solar industry: Solar Promotion International GmbH, Pforzheim, Freiburg Management and Marketing International GmbH (FMMI) and Aranda Eventos & Congressos Ltda, São Paulo as co-organizer.
25 August 2021
Join us to hear directly from the CTOs and heads-of-research from the top-20 cell/wafer producers to the PV industry today. The event will focus on predicting the key metrics underpinning the next big shift to n-type with answers to the key questions: When will the transition to n-type happen? Which companies will be first to 10 GW capacity and production? Who will be the key equipment suppliers for the new production lines? Which n-type process flow/architecture will emerge as the front-runner? What will polysilicon purity and wafer thickness levels look like for optimized n-type manufacturing? What will the upstream poly/wafer supply-chain look like in 5 years from now?
26 August 2021
In this webinar, JA Solar will present its product portfolio based on the latest technologies to improve your PV projects, ensuring maximum reliability and performance. During the webinar we will receive insight from JA Solar about its solar technology roadmap and how the manufacturer is providing customers with innovative solutions to suit their needs, while we will also analyse how to determine the best product solution for each solar project.
6 September 2021
The 38th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition will be held online from 6 - 10 September 2021, allowing PV experts from all around the globe to participate with just one click! The EU PVSEC is the world's leading forum for PV Research and Development and the biggest Conference on PV Solar Energy worldwide. That is why PV experts from all around the globe are keen on gathering together each year to be part of this specialist’s event, to present and discuss the latest developments in Photovoltaics, to network and to conduct business.

Read Next

July 30, 2021
First Solar has unveiled plans to construct a 3.3GWdc module assembly facility in India, bolstering its manufacturing footprint outside of the US.
July 30, 2021
Anglo-Australian mining company BHP, in partnership with Canada’s TransAlta Renewables, is to build two solar farms and a battery storage system to help power its Mt Keith and Leinster nickel mines in Western Australia
July 30, 2021
German energy giant RWE has upgraded its earnings forecast for 2021 after “exceptionally positive” earnings trend
July 29, 2021
Tracker and racking provider Arctech has delivered SkySmart II tracking system to a 575MW agriculture-sharing solar project located in Nangong City, Hebei Province, China.
July 29, 2021
Unigreen Energy, owned by Hevel majority shareholder Ream Management LLC, has broken ground on a wafer and cell manufacturing plant that will produce 1.3GW of silicon n-type monocrystalline ingots and wafers as well as 1GW of heterojunction technology (HJT) solar cells.
July 29, 2021
Meyer Burger has revealed plans to launch a solar roof tile product, expanding its rooftop solar product range.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
August 19, 2021
At 9am (PT) | 6pm (CEST)
Solar Media Events
August 25, 2021
Solar Media Events
October 6, 2021
Solar Media Events
October 19, 2021