U.S. Representative Jay Inslee (D-Wash) unveiled legislation that would give incentives to American consumers and businesses that generate electricity from renewable sources, during a speech at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) last week.
Based on the feed-in tariff policy that has enabled Germany to achieve 55% of the world's installed solar capacity and to provide 14% of its electricity supply from renewable sources, Inslee's Clean Energy Buy-Back Act would guarantee U.S. producers of clean energy connection to the grid and predetermined rates from utilities for their power.
It is the first ever proposal in Congress that would implement what Inslee is calling a performance-based incentive (PBI) policy, also known as a feed-in tariff, which has been proven to be an effective means of increasing adoption of renewable-energy technologies in Germany, Spain, France and other countries.
"With market certainty, innovators and inventors will turn out to compete in the market for renewable electricity," Inslee said.
Policies like Inslee's PBI have been implemented worldwide, in a total of 41 countries, provinces and states. In the United States, measures that would enact such a system already have been proposed in Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, and Rhode Island.
"Through its three basic elements--guaranteed grid access, fixed fees, no capping--feed-in tariffs have led to investment autonomy through operators who are independent of the power supply industry," commented Dr. Hermann Scheer, the member of the German parliament who played a key role in writing and enacting the law credited with adding over 140,000 renewable energy jobs to Germany's economy. "New players have stepped into the market who now no longer have to ask the established energy providers for permission to access the grid. Only in this way can a breakthrough for renewable energy take place."
Inslee serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Natural Resources Committee and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.
"Just like there won't be one silver bullet technology to solve global warming, there won't be a silver bullet policy solution either," Inslee added. "This will be one important piece of the puzzle."
Inslee said his Clean Energy Buy-Back Act has support of almost 70 companies and organizations, including the Biomass Coordinating Council, Environmental and Energy Study Institute, 2020 Vision and Washington-based AltaRock Energy, Infinia Corporation and Living Shelter Design Architects.
"As the former Chairman of the Congressional Study Group on Germany, it is clear to me that the single most important step we can take in order to promote a rapid growth of renewable energy in the United States is to adopt our own version of the German feed-in-tariff," said U.S. Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass), the prime co-sponsor of Inslee's bill. "In my travels to Germany I have been amazed at how this very simple policy has created an explosion of grassroots interest in the use of solar and wind energy. It is time to bring this renewable energy revolution to the United States."