Cities, states, and even countries are already utilizing FITs to deliver cost-effective renewable energy, strengthen local economies, foster environmental sustainability, and enhance energy security. See below to learn more about these successful programs.
AES Distributed Energy
AES Corporation’s United States Strategic Business Unit is comprised of 10 businesses in the United States, including AES Distributed Energy. To date, the AES Distributed Energy generation portfolio includes more than 725 megawatts (MW) of wind, 80 MW of energy storage, and approximately 200 MW of solar photovoltaic systems. AES Distributed Energy brings reliable and economical distributed energy systems to schools, municipalities, utilities, corporations, and commercial and industrial clients.
Read the AES Distributed Energy FIT brief here.
From the time it established a FIT in 2009 to 2015, the city of Gainesville, Florida grew its solar PV capacity by over 5,300% and created 300 local jobs, while energy prices rose by less than 1 percent. By 2015, Gainesville, with more than 15 megawatts (MW) of solar generating capacity and 200,000 residents, boasted an installed solar capacity per capita total more than triple the United States average.
Georgia Power | Georgia
The decreasing costs of solar installations, increasing costs of electricity, and efforts by the Georgia Public Service Commission have paved the way for FIT growth in Georgia. Georgia Power’s advanced solar initiatives combined with progressive research and forward thinking state energy policies have launched Georgia Power into the national spotlight as a clean energy leader while unleashing wholesale distributed generation (wholesale DG). Its significant solar potential went largely untapped until the Clean Coalition introduced their FIT guidelines and design to Georgia Power in 2012. The FIT brief examines Georgia Power’s success in deploying wholesale DG and its subsequent economic growth.
Read the Georgia Power FIT brief here.
Germany serves as the best example of a thriving FIT on the national level. Established in 2000 through the national Renewable Energy Law, the initial goal of Germany’s FIT was to generate 12.5% of the nation’s electricity from renewable sources by 2010. Germany reached this goal in 2007, three years ahead of schedule. On a sunny day in May 2012, Germany produced 50% of the country’s electricity from solar energy — the equivalent of 20 nuclear power stations operating at full capacity.
Thanks to their FIT, Germany is now the world’s solar leader, significantly outpacing California in the deployment of solar photovoltaics (PV).
Germany is bringing on substantially more solar PV than California, even though California’s solar resource is 70% better.
Importantly, Germany’s solar PV capacity is not from centralized, utility-scale solar plants. The German FIT — which opens the energy market to broad participating by removing barriers to clean local energy — enables German citizens, farmers, and small business owners to easily generate and sell clean local energy to the local utility at a fixed price for a set duration. This type of local generation, known as wholesale distributed generation, comprises nearly all of Germany’s solar PV capacity.
If California streamlined their solar market, like Germany has done, rooftop solar could come online at a cost of 7 to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, depending on the project size.
More information on the German Energy Transition can be found here.
LADWP | Los Angeles, CA
Established in 2013, by April 2018 the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power’s (LADWP) CLEAN L.A. Solar program was generating 47 MW of solar projects, with another 56 MW in development. In addition to significantly reducing carbon emissions, CLEAN L.A. Solar has also translated demand for clean energy into local economic growth. The program is expected to create 4,500 jobs and generate $500 million in economic activity, according to the Los Angeles Business Council.
High demand has prompted widespread calls to expand CLEAN L.A. Solar by a factor of four, which matches the plan Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti laid out while building support on the campaign trail. The Mayor promised to increase the production of local solar energy to 1,200 MW by 2016 — with at least 600 megawatts from the CLEAN L.A. Solar program. According to independent studies by UCLA and the Clean Coalition, expanding CLEAN L.A. Solar to this size would bring his city over 18,000 new job opportunities and up to $2 billion in private investment.
LIPA | Long Island, NY
Launched in July 2012, the Long Island Power Authority’s (LIPA) CLEAN Solar Initiative guided the development of local solar projects to critical points on the utility’s grid. After a highly successful initial offering of 50 megawatts (MW), LIPA announced a second iteration in 2013 to bring an additional 100 MW solar energy to the region. By utilizing local renewables (rather than new centralized generation and transmission) to meet rising demand for electricity, the New York utility estimated it could save its customers nearly $84 million by 2020 compared to the cost of adding transmission capacity.
PSE&G | New Jersey
PSE&G is the pioneer behind utility owned wholesale distributed generation (wholesale DG) in the United States and their renewable energy initiatives have helped make New Jersey one of the leading states for solar energy development. The utility’s renewable energy initiatives operate much like the successful FIT programs developed by the Clean Coalition, which create jobs, make communities more resilient, stimulate economic activity, and help mitigate climate change. This FIT brief examines PSE&G’s success in deploying utility owned wholesale DG and its subsequent rise as one of the nation’s top ten solar-connected utilities.
Read the PSE&G CLEAN brief here.
SMUD | Sacramento, CA
Local renewable energy generation has already proven cost-effective in the state of California. In 2010, the municipal utility for the city of Sacramento — known as the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) — launched a well-designed FIT to bring 100 megawatts (MW) of local solar online.
Nearly all of this capacity has come online with no impact on electric rates compared with business as usual. It is worth noting that the 100 MW of local solar in the SMUD service territory is equivalent to 2.5 gigawatts of local solar if a similar program were extended across the entire state.
Vermont has a statewide FIT — known locally as the Standard Offer program. Through the passage of the 2012 Energy Bill, Vermont expanded the statewide program from 50 megawatts (MW) to 127.5 MW. Notably, the capacity of any distributed generation facility that provides “sufficient benefits to the operation and management of the electric grid” as a result of its location or other characteristics will not count towards the overall program cap of 127.5MW. Therefore, no limit exists on the amount of clean local energy that can come online from facilities providing sufficient locational benefits.
The statewide FIT greatly simplifies the process for bringing local, renewable energy projects (up to 2.2 MW) for citizens, farmers, and small business. Around 28 MW of clean local energy generation have been built in just three years, with many more projects underway.