Feed-in tariffs. US lags behind other countries


A feed-in tariff is a policy mechanism designed to encourage the adoption of renewable energy sources. It typically includes three key provisions: 1) guaranteed grid access, 2) long-term contracts for the electricity produced, and 3) purchase prices that are methodologically based on the cost of renewable energy generation. Under a feed-in tariff, an obligation is imposed on regional or national electricity utilities to buy renewable electricity (electricity generated from renewable sources.

Seems simple enough. I put solar on my roof. All the power goes into the grid and none into my home. I am paid for that energy and get to purchase my own energy at a discounted rate. Germany has had great success with this, as have many other countries. But not in the US. Why? The utilities resist it and federal government regulations make it difficult.

Renewable Energy World explores the long and winding road to useful feed-in tariffs in the US. Why oh why is energy policy in this country so archaic and deliberately restrictive? I’m guessing because entrenched interests don’t want to give up a penny of profits, and the good of the public be damned.

The answer to the bigger question of whether U.S. law will continue to treat renewable energy as a burdensome addition to the existing utility system remains to be seen. Unless these legal precedents in the U.S. are clarified or revised, many feel that the U.S.’ competitive position will continue to erode in comparison to countries such as China, India, Germany, and Japan that look at renewable energy differently.


  1. It’s baffling why so many are baffled at this: we are a *fossil fuel energy producing* nation. Half our electricity comes from coal– much of the rest comes from oil and gas. These industries employ lots of people. They (even with the huge tax breaks they get) pay lots of taxes– and more importantly, they have lots of money to spend on lobbying and (when permitted) campaigns. Where is a politician’s bread buttered? That’s a no-brainer.

    Hence 75% of the energy generated in the U.S. is wasted, and no one cares. Gasoline prices are artificially low– about 25% of what they are in Europe– and when they rise, we squeal. Our carbon emissions per person are DOUBLE the EU’s and ten times the world average– and we think we’re somehow justified.

    And what if we stopped shipping money to the Middle East? How would Al Queda get funded? My God, man, we might have to declare peace!

    Waste means people keep their existing jobs. No politician who wants re-election would vote to put people out of work.

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