MARIN — Marin Energy Authority, the agency providing a renewable energy alternative to PG&E’s current offerings through Marin Clean Energy, has created a program that it hopes will help stimulate local renewable energy assets.
Starting Jan. 1, the Feed-In Tariff program will allow local residents and property owners who have small-scale renewable generation systems, like solar or wind, the opportunity to sell the electrical output directly to Marin Clean Energy. It will then sell it back to consumers.
Marin Clean Energy is a Community Choice Aggregation. It was established by California Assembly Bill 117 in 2002, which gave cities and counties the authority to procure electricity on behalf of customers within their jurisdictions.
The agencies are set up so PG&E delivers the electricity, reads the electric meters and issue bills. But generation of electricity and the price would be determined locally.
The Marin-based energy authority was created in December 2008 to address climate change by attempting to reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.
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Currently, Marin Clean Energy has 9,000 customers. The first phase of the program was rolled out in May of this year, and the second phase will roll out in 12 months, said Dawn Weisz, interim director of the program.
"We have been considering a contract for a FIT for about a year," said Ms. Weisz. "Our board made it a priority, and we began drafting up our program in August. We looked at different structures from around the country and world and think we have come up with a viable product for power-users."
The pilot program, available only in Marin County, is a standard-offer power purchase agreement and can now be used by any producer in Marin to authorize the sale of power and specifically define the term of 10, 15 or 20 years, depending on the seller’s preference.
“We are so proud to be launching a Feed-in Tariff in Marin County," said Damon Connolly, chair of Marin Clean Energy’s Technical Committee. "This will encourage the production of more local renewable energy right here in Marin while driving local job growth at the same time.”
Marin Clean Energy hopes the program will promote the development of more local renewable energy resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Marin.
“We think there is an untapped area in the market,” Ms. Weisz said.
Currently in Marin County there are about 12 megawatts of solar power, 12 times the amount it had in 2000.
“We hope that it will continue to grow," Ms. Weisz said. "We project that our program will stimulate another 12 megawatts of renewable energy in the next seven years."
Feed-In Tariffs minimize the usual time and effort required to contract with power generators by standardizing the price MCE pays. It is currently targeting systems of up to one megawatt in size that can connect to PG&E’s local distribution system. The program is capped at two megawatts systemwide.
For information on the program and the rate structures for the purchase of renewable energy, visit www.marincleanenergy.com.