Gainesville, Florida—Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU), a city-owned utility in Florida, is moving forward with an ordinance for a utility-driven feed-in tariff for solar electricity. Under the plan, the utility agrees to buy all electricity produced by solar-electric systems for 20 years from the time a project is installed—at a guaranteed set rate that is above market value.

If city commissioners pass the ordinance as expected, GRU would be the first municipally owned utility in the nation to adopt a feed-in tariff policy. This policy would allow customers to profit if they produce more solar electricity than they use. California, which is currently the only other state with a feed-in tariff, allows customers to offset their utility bills but not profit from surplus production.

The Sunshine State is living up to its name, with two revolutionary plans to increase solar energy production.

The plan is modeled after Germany's feed-in law, which provides customers with preferential prices for solar-generated electricity. GRU executives were among a group of utility executives who recently traveled to Germany with the Solar Electric Power Association to see how European utilities are encouraging private investment in renewable energy.

Germany's feed-in tariff is credited with making it one of the largest, and arguably most successful, solar markets in the world. The hope is that Gainesville Regional Utilities' plan will bring that level of success to Florida.

Lakeland, Florida—Florida's third-largest public power utility, Lakeland Electric, has partnered with solar energy giant SunEdison to install 24 megawatts of PV power. With an average of 214 watts each among Lakeland Electric's more than 100,000 customers, the PV program promises to be one of the largest utility-backed projects in the United States.

SunEdison will be responsible for funding and installing the systems for Lakeland Electric, as well as monitoring and maintenance. Both ground-mounted and roof-mounted systems will round out the 24 MW of installed PV capacity.

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Getting Started With Solar

Getting Started With Solar

Do we really want the one thing that gives us its resources unconditionally to suffer even more than it is suffering now? Nature, is a part of our being from the earliest human days. We respect Nature and it gives us its bounty, but in the recent past greedy money hungry corporations have made us all so destructive, so wasteful.

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