Feed-In Tariff and Regulatory Choice

DEFG’s senior associate, Cynthia Boland, esq., has written an excellent summary of the laws and policy options surrounding the use of “feed-in tariffs” (Fit) to promote renewable energy development in the United States. “Feed‐In Tariffs and Renewable Resource Policy Tradeoffs,” is the second in the “Series of Regulatory Choices” published by DEFG to promote thinking and discussion surrounding issues relating to the smart grid, alternative energy development, and the expansion of customer choices in energy services. Interested persons may download a copy of the report here. This second report describes the key provisions of feed-in tariff policy, the German experience, U.S. renewable resource policy and the issues presented by a FiT policy.

UPDATE 6/15/2010: The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) has published a short guide on this topic. “Feed-in Tariffs (FIT): Frequently Asked Questions for State Utility Commissions,” is available as a PDF download here.

DEFG’s “Series of Regulatory Choices” explores the federal, state and local regulatory decisions that expand the choices available to energy consumers as they construct and inhabit buildings, purchase and maintain energy‐consuming devices, purchase energy, or manage their consumption of energy. I believe that greater choice increases economic efficiency — that is, makes us better off.  The “tagline” of the series is “All agencies make a series of choices,” because each government agency makes decisions about whose rights matter, and good public policy requires a balancing of competing choices. DEFG’s regulatory practice remains focused on energy consumers and customer-facing issues in the selection of alternative resources and energy efficiency services. Comment below on those regulatory issues – federal, state and local – that you are grappling with in this period of market transformation.

The FiT report complements DEFG-EcoAlign’s “Project Energy Code” paper on Germany. “Why Germany? Why Solar?” discussed Germany’s experience with solar energy, and included a political-economic analysis of Germany’s industrial and energy policy. It considered: Why have Germans supported government intervention in the energy industry and why are they willing to pay more for renewable energy? Why does solar energy make sense if Germany is not particularly sunny? Why is the German experience worthy of study? Download the paper here.  The “Project Energy Code” facilitates a discussion among energy professionals and social scientists about the “green gap” between consumers’ stated intentions and purchasing behavior. The reports address social, psychological, emotional and instinctual “codes of behavior” that affect human energy consumption.

DEFG-EcoAlign has third series of papers. The popular “EcoPinion” presents the results of statistically valid consumer surveys. EcoPinion is a macro-level assessment of consumer values, drivers and behavior around energy and environment. The periodic surveys target 1,000 people matching the U.S. population by age, gender, region and ethnicity. The surveys indicates various examples of the gap that providers have to fill through marketing. Learn more.

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