Energy Policy — Looking for the Broad Side of the Barn

TSEA has been following Craig Shields, blogger on green energy, a battle-hardened veteran in the fight to bring in the Green Energy Age. I strongly recommend his site. This is an excerpt of his latest entry:

Wednesday morning as I was getting ready to conclude my participation in the Renewable Energy Finance Forum, I had a thought I wanted to share. It had been two-days of nitty-gritty financial talk — extremely precise language of tax lawyers and investment bankers, which left me more than ready to resume a discussion of the “broad side of the barn.” As important as all these issues of cost of capital, production tax credits, and Senate bills addressing master limited partnerships may be, this really had been, to some degree, an exercise in missing the forest for the trees.

In this article Craig is focusing on the difficulties in bringing experts from different areas together to focus on ways to create a comprehensive finance program to promote our next generation of electric power. There are so many voices in the discussion that it is hard to imagine a conclusion that will satisfy everybody with a dog in the fight. Maybe what is needed is for a non-biased party that has a solid reputation for integrity to compile all the various inputs and try to make sense in offering a solution that all will hate but begrudgingly agree is a solution they can live with.

That brings to mind our own Baker Center. The University of Tennessee’s Baker Center “Assessment of Incentives and Employment Impacts of Solar Industry Deployment” dated May 1, 2012, last paragraph in the summary section states:
“We find that solar energy is following the same incentive-driven path as other traditional energy sources before it, consistent with the government’s decision to incentivize energy production for a variety of policy purposes. We also conclude that the federal investment in solar energy could bring about a number of tangible benefits, including increased employment, global business opportunities, and energy supply diversity”.

That Baker Center report commissioned by the Solar Energy Industry Association has lead to NY state policymakers debating the New York Solar Jobs Act, which would lay the groundwork for the addition of 3,000 megawatts of solar in the Empire State by 2021. Give some thought to having the Baker Center, with its integrity and excellence, being funded to figure out how Tennessee could increase its use of renewable energy a midst the jungle of TVA restrictions, Tennessee legislature and other factors that would go into a policy that could be presented to our citizens and to TVA board for adoption that would lead to a more stable and consistent overall pathway towards new jobs and cleaner electrical energy generation in Tennessee.


June 28th, Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) announced a CLEAN solar initiative, otherwise known as a feed-in tariff to spur up to 50 MW of commercial and large-scale solar projects in its region over the next two years. Under the program, LIPA will purchase all of the energy generated by local solar projects at a fixed-rate of 22 cents per kilowatt-hour for 20 years.  Projects must be at least 50 kilowatts (kW) in size so residential systems won’t qualify. LIPA said that it expects the largest projects to be in the 3-MW range. The program is capped at 50 MW.

Craig Shields blog is located here