The Gainesville Solar Coup Shares Growing Pains
Mr. Kegelmann also recognizes that feed-in tariffs remain a good way to keep cash flowing into the community “and make the community more independent of spikes in energy prices.” He recommends increasing annual capacity quotas at the start of implementation to prevent an initial rush of applications, many of which may be unqualified. At the same time, stricter requirements – such as application fees and inclusion of drawings of the proposed system, as well as rules requiring projects to be built on existing structures – are necessary to encourage applications for truly feasible projects. Mr. Kegelmann has proposed additional measures to build awareness of renewable energy investments, broaden local participation in the program, and help stimulate the local economy. These include educating local investors; engaging stakeholders to help validate feed-in tariff rates and channel business to local firms; and setting aside a portion of the program quota for households, schools, public buildings and non-profit organizations.
The GRU program has become one of America’s most visible feed-in tariff programs. The recommendations arising from the Gainesville experience will help to not only fine-tune the GRU program, but also to help ensure success for similar programs in the future.