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How would you like it if your utility paid you a fair price for all the extra solar energy your rooftop system produced?  Would you be inclined to, say, supersize your system and generate solar power for your neigbhors?  Of course you would!  And that’s why solar advocates have been pushing for years to require utilities to implement Feed-in-Tariffs that would do just that–encourage people to buy more solar than they need and sell the excess back to the utility.

Like many great environmental policy ideas, the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) is the victim of a disabling blend of political inertia and misinformation.  As this blog has lamented before, FIT critics argue, “Sure, the FIT is great for solar power investors but lousy for everyone else who will have to pay higher utility bills.”

The unfairness argument is sorta true:  Ratepayers without solar will have to pay a little more each month, but the operative word here is “little.”   A report just out about Ontario’s new FIT program (which, by the way, is expected to create 70,000 new jobs) concludes that the average ratepayer will be saddled with an added monthly charge that is less than the cost of one glazed donut (with sprinkles).

Now, maybe baked goods in Canada are pricier than I realize, but I’m guessing the Canuck FIT premium is about the same as the added FIT cost predicted for the proposed FIT program in Los Angeles–48 cents!  Are we really quibbling over 48 cents?  Are we really entertaining the notion that creating thousands of green jobs and curbing climate change isn’t worth 48 cents?  Really?

Kudos to Ontario for making big solar strides…we hope to see FITs rolling out all over North America in the years ahead.

–Erica Etelson

Posted by Danny Kennedy

Danny Kennedy co-founded Sungevity and now serves as strategic advisor. He is an internationally recognized opinion leader on climate and energy issues. He is the author of Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy - and Planet - from Dirty Energy (2012), a book that has been described as the clean energy manifesto for the next greatest generation.