Cities, states, and even countries are already utilizing CLEAN Programs 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.
Since establishing a CLEAN Program in 2009, the city of Gainesville, Florida has grown its solar photovoltaic capacity by over 5,300% and created 300 local jobs, while energy prices have risen by less than 1% — about a dollar per month. Gainesville, with more than 15 megawatts of solar generating capacity and 200,000 residents, now boasts an installed solar capacity per capita total that is more than triple the United States average.
Local renewable energy generation has already proven cost-effective in the state of California. In 2010, the municipal utility for the city of Sacramento, California — known as the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) — launched a well-designed CLEAN Program to bring 100 megawatts 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 megawatts 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 CLEAN Program — known locally as the Standard Offer program. Through the passage of the 2012 Energy Bill, Vermont expanded the statewide program from 50 megawatts to 127.5 megawatts. 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 127.5 megawatts. Therefore, no limit exists on the amount of clean local energy that can come online from facilities providing sufficient locational benefits.
The statewide CLEAN Program greatly simplifies the process for bringing local, renewable energy projects (up to 2.2 megawatts) for citizens, farmers, and small business. Around 28 megawatts of clean local energy generation have been built in just three years, with many more projects underway.
Germany serves as the best example of a thriving CLEAN Program on the national level. Established in 2000 through the national Renewable Energy Law, the initial goal of Germany’s CLEAN Program 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 CLEAN Program, Germany is now the world’s solar leader, significantly outpacing California in the deployment of solar 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 CLEAN Program — 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 seven to 10 cents/kWh, depending on project size.
For more information about Germany, our friends at Heinrich Böll Stiftung put together a fantastic website on the German Energy Transition.