The following petition letter on Feed-in Tariffs for New York was written by a local renewable energy advocate, Joel A. Huberman, to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. Click here to sign the petition. Congratulations on reaching more than 500 signatures!
OPINION / COMMENTARY
I suspect that you, who are reading this article, are already aware that, in order to prevent the worst effects of global warming, we need to start using renewable energy sources in place of fossil fuels as quickly as possible. But are you aware that the policy that’s proven most effective in promoting rapid introduction of renewable energy is the feed-in tariff (FIT)? And are you aware that FITs have also proved to be great economic stimulators and job creators?
What is a FIT? Here’s a definition from the staff of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), which is about to initiate a FIT specifically for solar power:
“The term “Feed-in Tariff” has been adopted throughout the industry to describe an offer to purchase a specific type of renewable generation from willing suppliers at a fixed price per kWh for a fixed period of time. The offer price would be stated in the Tariff and would be available to every supplier that meets the criteria specified in the Tariff, up to the maximum level of enrollment. Once a renewable resource supplier is enrolled under the Tariff, that supplier would receive the fixed price for 20 years pursuant to a non- negotiable, standard form Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), which, among other things, would memorialize the agreement with LIPA related to the terms of the Tariff. The PPA may assist the supplier with obtaining financial resources for the project, since it would reflect a commitment on the part of LIPA to purchase the output of the facility for the fixed term at a fixed price.”
In broader terms, FITS are established by long-term contracts between electric utilities and producers of electric power from renewable sources. FITs are often structured to benefit small producers (for example, individuals with a few solar panels on their roofs, or a school that has purchased a windmill, or a whole town, or an energy cooperative) as well as large (established power companies). As noted in the LIPA definition, FITs provide the guarantee of long-term income needed to secure inexpensive financing. The tariff rates (amounts paid per kWh) differ depending on the type of energy (solar is more expensive than other renewable technologies) and project scale (small projects are more expensive than large ones). The rates are calculated to meet reasonable capital and maintenance costs, plus a small profit.
Because FITs have been remarkably successful in the many jurisdictions where they’ve been tried throughout the world, the Energy Committee of the Niagara Group of the Sierra Club has undertaken a campaign to persuade Governor Cuomo to use his executive authority over the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to initiate a broad FIT program in Western New York, as a pilot program to test the feasibility of establishing FITS throughout New York State.
As part of that campaign, I set up an online petition at Change.org. The petition can be found here. I recommend that you read the text of the petition, because it contains additional interesting information about FITs and their benefits.
A FIT program for New York State would be a win-win-win situation--for all NYS residents, for those residents participating in the FIT program, and for those in NYS government (like Governor Cuomo) who want to help revitalize the State’s economy. All residents of NYS would benefit from an improved economy (billions in new investments, thousands of new jobs if we can replicate Ontario’s success), from improved health due to cleaner air after coal-burning plants are phased out, and from less extreme climate change due to replacement of CO2-generating, fossil-fuel-burning power plants with a variety of renewable energy sources, none of which would produce CO2 during electricity generation. Those NYS residents who, as individuals, cooperatives, communities, or small or large businesses obtain FIT contracts for electricity production from renewable resources will receive steady income streams over the 20-year lives of their contracts. And the NYS government, including Governor Cuomo, will be able to claim they’ve helped rejuvenate the economy of NYS without raising taxes (because FITs don’t depend on taxes!).
But Governor Cuomo, like any thoughtful politician, is cautious when undertaking a new project. The Governor undoubtedly understands the benefits of FITs, but he needs to see that there’s lots of support for FITs at the grassroots level. That’s where you come in. Please sign the petition today. It’s just a click away, at http://www.change.org/petitions/governor-cuomo-facilitate-feed-in-tariffs-for-new-york.
After you’ve signed, you could make your signature even more effective by letting one, or two (better), or more (best) of your New York State friends know about this petition and asking them to sign, too. The more signatures we collect, the more powerful our message!