The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

California's Attorney General Says Feed-in Tariffs Legal in US

In a significant filing June 25, 2009 California's Attorney General (AG) argued that feed-in tariffs as proposed in California are not only permitted under federal law but that they should be used to encourage the rapid growth of renewable energy.

The submission, part of hearings by the California's Public Utility Commission (CPUC) on whether the state can meet its Renewable Portfolio Standard, is potentially far-reaching because feed-in tariff opponents often raise the specter of federal-government intervention on the grounds that renewable tariffs violate federal law.

The AG is the legal representative of the government of California. However, it is the PUC that sets electricity rates. It is the PUC that will rule on whether to use feed-in tariffs and, if so, what rates should be set.

Nevertheless, the filing by the AG has created a stir not only in California but nationwide for several reasons, not the least of which is that California's AG is Edmund G. Brown Jr., known worldwide as Jerry Brown.

Brown was governor of California from 1975-1983 and mayor of Oakland, California from 1998-2006. He is widely recognized in the annals of renewable energy as responsible for the massive development of renewable energy in California during the early 1980s. The majority of the wind and solar generating capacity operating in the state was installed during that period.

California won its reputation as a leader in renewable energy and energy conservation during Brown's administration and has lived off that reputation for nearly a quarter-century. It was under Brown's leadership that the then PUC created the world's first successful feed-in tariff, Standard Offer Contract No. 4.

Brown has said that he plans to run for governor again in 2010.

The AG's filing specifically says that the PUC "has sufficient legal authority to set feed-in tariff rates to promote the adoption of distributed generation." Moreover, the AG goes on to encourage the PUC "to proceed with its efforts and to set the feed-in tariff rate at a level that encourages a significant increase in the megawatts of distributed renewable energy available in California."

Feed-in tariff opponents have argued that the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), a part of 1978's National Energy Act, precludes renewable tariffs based on the cost of generation, or in the language of the PUC, "seller's cost of service."

The AG counters that "PURPA empowers the State, through the PUC, to set avoided cost rates. Nevertheless, federal law loosely governs the rate-setting method. . ." and suggests that there are ways to meet PURPA's requirements while meeting the need to rapidly develop renewable energy through what amounts to setting a tariff based on the cost of generation. "Whatever the mechanism," says the AG's filing, "the price should allow recoupment of costs and a modest rate of return over a reasonable time period."

Equally as important, the filing squarely confronts the Supreme Court's decades-old decision throwing out an early feed-in tariff in Iowa on PURPA grounds. "The Midwest Power Systems ruling does not preclude California from setting avoided cost rates for distributed renewables," says the AG.

The mere threat of the old Midwest Power case was used effectively to kill a proposed Renewable Energy Sources Act in Iowa earlier this year.

Feed-in tariff proponents are breathing a sigh of relief. "With this brief, the California attorney general has exorcised the ghosts of PURPA from American feed-in tariffs," said John Farrell, author of Feed-in Tariffs in America. "This legal opinion supports the PUC's use of full-powered, technology-differentiated, cost-based feed-in tariffs and it gives California and America the world's most effective policy tool to meet their renewable energy goals."

Farrell's assessment was echoed by Toby Couture, an expert on feed-in tariffs for Energy Analytics and author of several reports on the policy for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. "This clarifies an important uncertainty in FIT policy design in the U.S., and sets a clear precedent for allowing cost-based FITs to be implemented at the state-level in the U.S., says Couture.

California's Attorney General's filing on FITs

Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now

RELATED ARTICLES

Electricity Deregulation

Japan Electricity Deregulation: Birth of Municipally Owned Electric Utilities

Junko Movellan, Correspondent The upcoming retail electricity deregulation in Japan will create a way for Japanese municipal governments to produce...
Solar panel

REC Joins O Capital in Egypt to Tap Solar Panel Market in Middle East, Africa

Anna Hirtenstein, Bloomberg REC Solar ASA has signed a deal with O Capital, the renewable energy arm of Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Hold...
Solar PV

OneEnergy Seeks Authority to Build 6 MW Solar PV Facility in Southern Maryland

Jennifer Delony OneEnergy Renewables is seeking regulatory approval in Maryland to build a 6 MW solar PV facility in Somerset County,...
Solar water heating

California Regulators Propose Expansion of Eligibility Requirements for Solar Water Heating Program

Jennifer Delony The California Public Utilities Commission has proposed expanding the eligibility requirements for customers seeking ...

PRESS RELEASES

Canadian Solar Wins Five Solar Power Projects Totaling 185 MW in Brazil

These power projects were won under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the B...

$100 Off of 5-day Advanced PV Project Experience. Download a Topic Schedule.

Assemble, ground, energize, and commission a complete grid-tied SolarEdge system from s...

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd talks politics of fear vs. politics of hope

Rudd, who led the Australian parliament from 2007 to 2010, told the Summit audience tha...

Intersolar AWARD „Solar Projects in India“ – Applications being accepted until September 18

The Intersolar AWARD in the category Solar Projects in India honors projects in the fie...

FEATURED BLOGS

Washington, DC Bridges the Solar Gap

The District of Columbia has enjoyed 15 years of strong economic growth. But prosperity is spread unevenly across the...

Sell Through Hypothesis

You first learned to hypothesize, or make educated guesses, in grade school science class. Now it’s time to ref...

Cronimet / THEnergy study: In solar for mines size does not always matter - Reducing CAPEX with energy efficiency and load shifting

Munich, September 2015. Mining companies are constantly gaining interest in solar solutions because frequently solar ...

Final Program Now Available for GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo

GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo - Final Program from

FINANCIAL NEWS

Paul Gipe has written extensively about renewable energy for both the popular and trade press. He has also lectured widely on wind energy and how to minimize its impact on the environment and the communities of which it is a part. For his efforts,...

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

Volume 18, Issue 4
1507REW_C11

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

Successfully Integrating Solar: A Proactive Approach

•      What does the increasing solar penetrati...

Doing Business in Europe – in partnership with GWEC, the Global Win...

There is now 128.8 GW of installed wind energy capacity in the EU (appro...

Doing Business in South Africa – in partnership with GWEC, the Glob...

Wind Energy in South Africa has been expanding dramatically, growing fro...

COMPANY BLOGS

Sell Through Hypothesis

You first learned to hypothesize, or make educated guesses, in grade sch...

Final Program Now Available for GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal...

GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo - Final Program f...

Vacancy? No Problem!

Have you ever tried to sell an efficiency product or service to a prospe...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS