Saturday, March 13, 2010

New York Times gets FITs (party) wrong again

In an article on matters in Los Angeles, the New York Times finally produces an excellent definition of a feed-in tariffs:

... under which the utility will pay a set rate for electricity from customers...

Wow, see how easy it is once you leave out the word "taxpayer"? Now, we simply need to make it clear that "customers" are actually energy producers under this scheme. The monopoly of utility companies is broken.

The plan in LA apparently includes "a roughly 5 percent rate increase on electricity use... earmarked for renewable energy." Germany has become the world leader in wind and solar for a roughly 3 percent rate increase on electricity, but apparently such ideas sound too expensive to Americans. For instance, as I learned last fall, Louisiana also calculated that it could have tremendous growth in renewables with a three-percent increase, a rate that was felt to be too high. So the state opted to do nothing.

But here's where the New York Times goes wrong:

European countries have had mixed results — some wildly successful, some a horrific bust — with feed-in tariffs.

Really? "Some" -- that sounds like the plural. Which European countries have been "a horrific bust" with feed-in tariffs? I cannot think of any. Not a single one. The one that is most often cited is Spain, but Spain did not have a problem with feed-in tariffs as a whole. It had a problem with feed-in tariffs for solar, which were simply too successful. The program now has a ceiling of 500 megawatts per year, a level that the United States would be lucky to achieve. You call that horrific?

And if you think that Germany has also failed horrifically, keep in mind that Germany has a target -- a target, not a ceiling -- of 3,000 megawatts per year.

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