Hawaii Opens Clean Energy Market
A decision issued by Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission could spawn new clean energy investment in the state. The decision to introduce a “feed-in tariff” will provide a set price over 20 years for green electricity so solar companies and wind developers will know exactly what price they’ll get for electricity from a future project. “It’s a guaranteed price for clean energy,” says Jeff Mikulina, executive director of the Blue Planet Foundation. “It provides a lot of certainty in the marketplace for developers so they can get financing for their projects.” It will also allow homeowners to sell power back to the grid.
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Advocates for clean energy are encouraged about the decision-which lays the framework for the new policy but doesn't set specific rates for the purchase of clean power.
Hawaii is among the first in this country to have a feed-in tariff, joining Vermont and Gainesville, Florida. In Europe, they’re commonplace. Germany has had a feed-in tariff for 20 years; Germany now has enough solar photovoltaic installed to power all of Hawaii's electricity needs twice over and six times as much wind per person as Hawaii. Next year, say German economists, more people will be employed in Germany's clean energy sector than in automobile development and manufacturing. And this in the nation that produces cars made by Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi, and BMW
In fact, some 40 places around the world, from Europe to Canada to Australia, have adopted feed-in tariffs, making them one of the most popular policies for growing clean energy economies.
“It comes down to valuing green electrons more than black electrons,” Mikulina says. “Metaphorically, it’s a powerful statement.”
-- Suzanne Bopp