ARE, the Alliance for Renewable Energy is a new alliance working to build support for Renewable Energy Payment (REP) policies throughout North America. ARE’s overarching goal is to rapidly increase our shift from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. ARE is led by a 21 member Steering Committee that includes policymakers, renewable energy experts, citizens, research institutions, and leaders of large and small businesses. A list of these members is included at the end of this report. Steering Committee members began working together in the Spring of 2008 and officially launched ARE in October.
ARE is a membership organization of businesses, non-profit organizations, individuals and students.
• Corporate members include: Atlas Solar Innovations, EcoTechnologies, groSolar, NOVEDA Technologies, Redwood Renewables and SolarWorld.
• Non-profit members include: American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), Canadian Renewable Energy Alliance (CANREA), EarthAction, Windustry, and the World Future Council.
ARE also collaborates with Partner organizations including the Worldwatch Institute, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Pembina Institute, and the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW).
The following is a list of activities that ARE Steering Committee members initiated or were instrumental in bringing about in 2008.
• EarthAction and the World Future Council send out the last of over 4,500 Power to the People Action Kits focused on Feed-in Tariffs. Kits were sent to all 50 US governors and their energy advisors, over 1,200 state legislators in 9 targeted states, 723 mayors, over 1,200 organizations, and hundreds of journalists and concerned citizens.
• EarthAction called 148 members of the Michigan State Legislature in support of the Michigan Renewable Energy Resources Act (FIT legislation) introduced by Representative Kathleen Law in September 2007, and to talk about the benefits, including jobs, that FITs could bring to Michigan.
• Lois Barber interviewed about Feed-in Tariffs on Living on Earth the weekly environmental news and information program broadcast on over 300 Public Radio stations across the US. (The interview can be listened to and a transcript of the interview can be read at: www.loe.org.)
• Hawaii Legislative Representative Thielen introduced House Bill 3237 which was similar to Feed-in Tariff (FIT) bills previously introduced, but with a different rate of $0.45/kWh for solar photovoltaic systems. None of the FIT bills passed out of Committee and Thielen’s bill will be carried forward into 2009.
• Representative Karen May introduced the “Illinois Renewable Energy Sources Act” House Bill 5855 (based on the Michigan Bill) into the Illinois House of Representatives. It was later amended to remove the REP portion of the bill.
• Representative David Bly introduced the “Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff Act”, House Bill HF 3537, into the Minnesota House. The bill did not move to the floor during the session.
• The Canadian Renewable Energy Alliance (CanREA) and the Pembina Institute published a fact sheet and primer on Feed-in Tariffs, "Feeding Grid Renewably," authored by Roger Peters and Tim Weis. In June this was followed by a primer on power storage called "Storing Renewable Power" by Roger Peters and Lynda O'Malley. It included discussion of how Feed-in Tariffs might be used to encourage investment in dispatchable wind systems. Both primers are available at www.pembina.org.
• Over 80 participants attended a Feed-in Tariff all day workshop prior to the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) held in DC. The World Future Council and Worldwatch Institute, with support from the Heinrich Boell Foundation, convened this inspiring workshop focused on building support for FITs in North America. The workshop was attended by over 80 people including state legislators, directors of civil society organizations, renewable energy business leaders, energy experts and concerned citizens. It was the beginning of a multi-track coordinated effort to bring the “World’s Most Effective” renewable energy policy to the USA and Canada, and served as the fertile ground for the planting of the seeds of the Alliance for Renewable Energy—ARE. The WFC also hosted a side event on FITs during the WIREC conference.
• John Burges and others in Florida testify in favor of FITs at state legislative hearings and begin concentrated efforts to bring FITs to Florida. FlaSEIA (Florida Solar Energy Industries Association) becomes the first solar group to endorse FITs.
• On March 19th Vermont Senate Bill 209 (Lyons) amended an earlier Sustainably Priced Energy Enterprise Development (SPEED) statute so that projects of one MW or less are allowed to sell power under 15 year long-term contracts at levels that are "adequate to promote" renewable resources, rather than linked to the spot market price. The PSB was also directed to establish standard long-term contracts for generators over one MW, which utilities are encouraged to enter into.
• Ad hoc FIT group begins to meet and selects Steering Committee Members. Lois Barber and Paul Gipe chosen as Co-chairs.
• 20 large renewable energy companies in Florida sign letter of support for FITs.
• FITs workshop held prior to Windustry National Conference, Albany, New York.
• Alliance for Renewable Energy—ARE chosen as name for the coalition group that will educate and promote REPs in North America.
• Renewable Energy Payments (REPs), chosen to replace the name Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) in North America.
• Energy Biz magazine has article on FITs by Lois Barber in its May/June issue.
• Solar Fact Finding Mission in Germany for Utility Decision Makers, June 9-14. Bianca Barth and Mike Nelson lead 25 Utility representatives on a trip to visit Renewable Energy sites in Germany. First Solar is the prime funder.
• ACORE (Amercian Council on Renewable Energy) Wall Street Financing Forum, June 18-19, NYC, John Geesman (former Commissioner, California Energy Commission) speaks about REPs.
• June 18, Janet Sawin (Worldwatch Institute) and Wilson Rickerson make presentation on REPs on Capitol Hill, Washington DC, alongside Rep. Jay Inslee. The event was sponsored by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and had 156 registered attendees, including representatives from 29 House offices and 6 Senate offices.
• REP workshop led by Lois Barber at University of Massachusetts, Coop Power Conference, June 20-21, Amherst, MA.
• Full day REP workshop and presentations at World Wind Energy Association (WWEA) Conference, Kingston, Ontario, Canada June 24-26.
• Jose Etcheverry arranged to have Hermann Scheer and David Suzuki meet with the Premier of Ontario after the Kingston conference to discuss Renewable Energy versus Nuclear Power, and REPs/FITs.
• Full day REP workshop on June 24 prior to Florida Governor Christ’s Climate Change Summit in Miami, June 25-26. Florida State Representative Keith Fitzgerald announces that he will introduce a REPs bill in the Florida legislature. During the Governor’s conference, Hermann Scheer, German MP and “father” of FITs, gives standing ovation presentation that highlights REPs.
• June 25, Representative Jay Inslee (D-WA) introduces the "Renewable Energy Jobs and Security Act" into the US House of Representatives. This REP legislation has three main tenets: a guarantee to interconnect renewables to the grid with uniform standards; a mandatory purchase requirement through long-term contracts with fixed tariffs; and rate-recovery through a regional cost-sharing and systems benefit charge. This bill was drafted with input from several ARE Steering Committee members.
• June issue of World Watch magazine has article on the success of REPs in Germany and their potential in the US.
• In February, The Canadian Renewable Energy Alliance (CanREA) and the Pembina Institute published a fact sheet and primer on Feed-in Tariffs, "Feeding Grid Renewably" authored by Roger Peters and Tim Weis. In June, they then published a primer on power storage by Roger Peters and Lynda O'Malley titled, "Storing Renewable Power". This included a discussion of how Feed-in Tariffs might be used to encourage investment in dispatchable wind systems - both available at <www.pembina.org>.
• Bill McKibben comes out in support of REPs in May/June issue of Amercian Solar Energy Society (ASES) publication.
• AlllianceForRenewableEnergy.org website up and running. Over 80 REP endorsers listed.
• Speaking extemporaneously at the conclusion of the German-American Chamber of Commerce's Solar Symposium on July 14 in San Francisco, John Garamendi, California's Lieutenant Governor, said it "seems to me we want to use what works . . . and Feed-in Tariffs clearly do." He also added that "we need to come to a decision quickly" so the state can move forward.
• The proposed Maine feed-in tariff bill, called the Maine Renewable Energy Sources Act, was drafted with help from the MidCoast Green Collaborative, a non-profit organization. It calls for Feed-in Tariffs as part of a broader renewable energy strategy. Legislative Representative Hannah Pingree, is working with the Collaborative, and plans to sponsor the bill when it is complete in the 2009 session (The Coastal Journal 2008).
• Jose Etcheverry and others from Ontario organize a trip for the Minister of Energy in Ontario to visit Spain, Germany and Denmark to see key renewable energy sites in all of those areas.
• Paul Gipe gives presentation on REPs before the Michigan House Commerce Committee.
• Sierra Club chapter in Michigan supports REPs bill in the Michigan Legislature.
• Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm publicly announces her support for the REPs bill in the Michigan legislature.
• September 29, Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy Launches. Renewable energy advocates supporting the development of Renewable Energy Payments (Feed-in Tariffs) for Florida launched the Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy, dubbed FARE. Suggesting that feed-in tariffs are the "easiest energy choice Floridians can make," FARE says that it's supporters are concerned individuals, businesses, elected officials and organizations who recognize the opportunities that Renewable Energy Payments will bring to the state of Florida. FARE's first action was the FARE Filing August 2008 with Florida's Public Service Commission.
• October 11, as part of the Earth Charter Summit on Climate Change, Lois Barber gave a one hour presentation on REPs that was webcast worldwide.
• October 12, REP all-day workshop organized by the World Future Council prior to the Solar Power Conference and Expo, October 13-16, San Diego, California. The workshop was attended by over 80 participants including many businesses, policymakers, energy experts and civil society organizations. The workshop was co-sponsored by: As You Sow, Nexant, BP Solar, and SolarWorld. The workshop served as the official launch of the Alliance for Renewable Energy—ARE.
• October 13, Gainesville, Florida, City Commission, in association with their local municipal electric association, takes first substantial step to enact a REPs policy for Gainesville.
• October 20, Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle and the Hawaiian Electric Co (HECO). announce a sweeping new agreement aimed at fast-tracking the state’s renewable energy goals. The agreement, which the governor called “historical and transformational,” includes multiple commitments from both the state and the utility to reduce regulatory roadblocks to reach the state’s energy independence goals more quickly. HECO will request approval from the state Public Utilities Commission by July 2009 for a Feed-in Tariff system. The system would require the utility to publish in advance the rates it will pay for renewable power, and in effect, encourage investors to put money into renewable energy projects.
• Oregon Governor Kulongoski announced his climate change plan for the 2009 legislative session. It included: "Expand Solar Pilot Projects: To accelerate and expand the use of solar energy in Oregon.” This legislation, known as a REP or FIT policy, will create a production incentive pilot program that will pay for the electricity produced by a solar project, rather than by capital investments. The objective of Oregon’s pilot program is to determine if production payments make it more affordable for individuals and communities to invest in solar energy, which could lead to the acceleration and installation of renewable projects.
• ARE Website officially unveiled. Website Statistics: 30 pages, including Education and Outreach Resources, Research and Reports, Status of REP Legislation in each state/province/at the national level, US/Canada Events, REP Supporters and Benefits of REPs, Join ARE and Donate. The website has received over 4,000 hits, with each visitor viewing an average of 2.67 pages. 75% of the visitors were from the US, with another 12% from Canada, and others from countries as diverse as Switzerland, Germany, Australia, India, and Taiwan. The ARE website has been a model for the Florida Alliance For Renewable Energy—FARE to base theirs on. We plan to help other state groups create similar websites.
• Lois Barber gives REPs presentation at “Meeting the Climate Challenge—Taking Action in the Hudson Valley”. Friday, Nov. 21, Mohonk House, New Paltz, New York.
• Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy members meet with the Florida Governor’s staff to discuss REPs.
• New York State’s Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA) calls on NY to introduce REPs for solar photovoltaic systems.
• World’s Largest Municipal Utility Proposes Solar REP— Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced to much fanfare on November 24 that the city's municipal utility would launch one of the continent's largest solar power programs. Among provisions of the plan is a REP for 150 MW of solar photovoltaics by 2016. This is the first official announcement of a REP proposal by a California city.
• December 4, Multiple mentions of REPs at annual ACORE Phase II meeting on Capitol Hill
• Coalition forms in Oregon to promote REPs.
• December 5, Presentation by James Bradbury on REPs, Legislative Assistant to Congressman Jay Inslee (D-WA), at MD-DC-VA Solar Energy Industries Association (MDV-SEIA) "Solar Energy: Focus 2009--Conference & Exhibits", being held in Annapolis, Maryland. Chris Flavin, President of the Worldwatch Institute, also spoke at this event about REPs.
• December 12, Paul Gipe speaks about REPs at the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.
• December 19, The Gainesville, Florida Regional Utilities voted unanimously to recommend a higher rate of 32 cents/kwh for their proposed solar energy Renewable Energy Payments program.