Palo Alto Unanimously Approves Feed-In Tariff for Renewables

Yesterday, the City Council of Palo Alto, California unanimously approved a renewable energy feed-in law, dubbed the Clean Local Energy Accessible Now (CLEAN) Program. 

The City will purchase locally-produced solar energy at a fixed rate of 14 cents per kilowatt-hour for 20 years.

During this year’s pilot stage, the City is targeting 4 megawatts (MW) of solar on systems 100 kilowatts or more.

Starting next year, the program will expand to other types of renewables as well as to more eligible project sizes.

"Palo Alto CLEAN will expand clean local energy production while only increasing the average utility bill by a penny per month," explains Yiaway Yeh, Mayor of Palo Alto. "The program is a major step towards meeting our goal of supplying 33% of our electricity with renewable energy by 2015 without significant rate increases."

Craig Lewis, Executive Director of Clean Coalition which is located in Palo Alto and designs renewable energy policy and programs across the U.S., calls it the best clean energy program he’s seen to date.

The program stand out because it barely adds any costs to peoples’ electric bills. It accomplishes that by requiring the energy sources to be within city limits, giving it direct access to transmission lines.

Applications for the program open April 2.

Feed-in tariffs have been proven to be the most effective policy mechanism for expanding renewable energy. They’ve been so successful in Germany, where they began, that even that country has had to pull back on them

They are responsible for nearly two-thirds of the world’s wind power and 90% of the world’s solar.

Last year, a utility in Indiana began a hugely successful pilot program and Japan began formulating their program today.

The UK initiated the world’s first feed-in for solar heat and Malaysia, Ontario, Canada, Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines and Uganda all have feed-in tariffs.

The Clean Coalition offers a Local CLEAN Program Guide, which provides best practices on how communities can design and implement feed-in tariffs.

Here’s Palo Alto’s program:

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