Renewable Energy

In February, 2012, the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter Energy Committee published a white paper on Renewable Energy and Green Jobs Policy for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter Energy Committee: CLEAN-FIT programs: Clean Local Energy Accessible Now – Feed in Tariff.

An excerpt from the Executive Summary:

“Clean Local Energy Accessible Now – Feed-In Tariff (CLEAN-FIT) programs are an efficient method of maximizing both job creation and rapid renewable energy deployment.

CLEAN-FIT programs provide a guarantee that a wide variety of renewable energy projects are able to feed in to the energy grid on equitable terms at a long-term price that reflects the cost of producing the energy plus a reasonable rate of return.

CLEAN-FIT programs have been used in more than 80 jurisdictions around the world and have been very effective in creating jobs manufacturing, developing and installing renewable energy technology. Examples include Germany, which has created 367,400 clean energy jobs for a population that is less than 28% of the USA’s, and Ontario, Canada, which has created 20,000 jobs under a recently established CLEAN-FIT program.

CLEAN-FIT programs provide a stable investment climate that makes financing projects less complicated, less expensive, more attractive, and more available to individuals, small businesses and communities. For those reasons, CLEAN-FIT programs have a strong track record at creating demand for renewable energy projects and speeding the transition to renewable energy and away from polluting sources of energy.”

Read the white paper: http://newyork.sierraclub.org/documents/Clean-fitreport.pdf

Feed-in-tariffs, or CLEAN Contracts, provide a mechanism where producers of renewable energy (solar, wind, etc.) are fairly compensated for clean energy sold to utility companies. A set rate of return guarantees payments to the renewable energy companies for a number of years. This allows banks and investors to confidently invest in the industry to insure its development. Rates paid on renewable energy contracts are reviewed annually so that new contracts are adjusted to the market conditions. The cost of clean energy declines over time as the renewable companies grow in scale and energy spikes connected with fossil fuels are controlled.

Feed-in-tariffs have produced numerous good paying jobs in the renewable energy field, which cannot be transferred overseas. The policy has led to the development of an industry which supplies fifteen to twenty present of energy in the European countries. The feed-in-tariff modifies the energy spikes which occur in systems solely dependent on fossil fuels. The renewables also reduce carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions substantially. The entire renewable system has helped reduce dependence on foreign energy.

New York State

The development of renewable energy sources in New York State is essential to:

1. Reduce our dependence on destructive extraction and burning of fossil fuels and nuclear energy
2. Create tens of thousands of jobs
3. Increase investments in sustainable economic development
4. Help control global climate change
5. Leave a livable planet for our children and grandchildren

Governor Cuomo released the NYSun Initiative in April, 2012. Part of the proposal calls for a pilot 50 megawatt solar power feed-in-tariff program to be run by the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). The Initiative calls for LIPA to set rates for the purchase electricity from private producers of solar power and enter into long-term 20 year contracts. With these contracts, suppliers will be able to obtain funding from banks and investors for the installation of new solar arrays. Proposed LIPA regulations are subject to public comment.

Feed In Tariffs Worldwide

Niagara Group Executive Committee member, Larry Beahan, has written “Let’s Put Our Money into Clean Energy”. A global explosion of renewable energy, which the media in the United States often does not speak of, is outlined at “Revolution Greens: The energy [r]evolution has begun”. Renewable energy and conservation can supply our energy needs.

Both Germany and China are taking massive steps to develop renewable clean energy.

Europe’s industrial powerhouse, Germany, adopted a feed-in-tariff some ten years ago. This year 20% of their electricity comes from renewables. 370,000 people are currently employed in clean energy technology in Germany. In 2010, €26 billion euros (about $35 billion) was invested in German clean energy. The country’s goal is to produce 35% of their electricity from renewables by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

Feed-in-tariffs, or CLEAN Contracts, provide a mechanism where producers of renewable energy (solar, wind, etc.) are fairly compensated for clean energy sold to utility companies. A set rate of return guarantees payments to the renewable energy companies for a number of years. This permits banks and investors to confidently invest in the industry to insure its development. Rates paid on renewable energy contracts are reviewed annually so that new contracts are adjusted to the market conditions. The cost of clean energy declines over time as the renewable companies grow in scale and energy spikes connected with fossil fuels are controlled.

Right across the Niagara River and Lake Ontario, the Province of Ontario, Canada adopted a CLEAN Contract based on their version of a feed-in-tariff, also known as their Green Energy and Jobs Act. Billions of dollars of investments and thousands of jobs have been created since the laws inception in 2009. Projections are that Ontario will install more solar than California, and become the largest solar market in North America. The 2012 Ontario two-year study discusses the FIT, and projects 50,000 jobs from the program in the near future.

The YouTube video “Renewable Energy Development in New York State” is the May, 2010 presentation of the former Chair of Ontario’s Department of Energy George Smitherman to the New York State Senate on the Canadian legislation, and how New York State could benefit from a similar law. View a video of his presentation “Renewable Energy Development in New York State.”

In California, the development of clean energy has been the fastest growing industry in the State. Despite this, the fossil fuel industry proposed and funded a ballot proposition to discontinue clean energy development in the State. After an informed citizenry soundly defeated the petroleum industry’s proposition in 2010, After an informed citizenry soundly defeated the petroleum industry’s proposition in 2010, California Governor Brown signed a law that 33 percent of California’s electricity will be produced by renewable sources by the year 2020. This legislation goes hand in hand with the State’s ongoing efforts to conserve energy, which itself has become a booming industry.

Vermont, Rhode Island, and Gainesville, Florida have adopted Feed-in-Tariff legislation.