In 2005, Gainesville Florida signed the U.S conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement and committed to reduce its carbon emissions. As part of its plan, the city implemented the first solar feed-in-tariff in the U.S. Feed-in-tariffs spur investment.

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To increase the production of solar energy, Gainesville paid homeowners and larger producers for the solar power they generated and fed into the city’s electrical grid. And the program worked. The city now receives more than 15 megawatts of solar power. But the local coal power plant is still operating, and when the city built a new biomass power plant, the solar program was adding capacity that city councilman Todd Chase says was no longer needed.

Chase: “Ultimately what ended up happening was just simple economics. We have more power than we know what to do with.”

Faced with excess power and high utility costs, the city decided to suspend the feed-in-tariff program, no longer adding new solar capacity, but maintaining the solar energy already under contract. Today, 23% of Gainesville’s electricity comes from renewable sources – meeting its goal to reduce carbon pollution and putting it far ahead of most other cities.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
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