Can Feed-in Tariffs Let Everyone Be A Generator

Published: Mon 6 Sep 2010 12:17 PM
Can Feed-in Tariffs Let Everyone Be An Energy Generator?
Electricity generation is still the province of a few big players - and the current Government seems determined to rely on fossil fuels generation.
But some renewable energy proponents claim there is an alternative that can help turn ordinary homeowners, landowners and business owners into renewable energy generators who sell power to the national grid and help to reduce New Zealand's dependence on fossil fuels.
That alternative is called a Feed-in Tariff (FiT) policy. This policy would allow the electricity system operators to buy electricity at a fixed price under a long term contract from anyone who generates renewable electricity and delivers it to the national grid or a local electricity network. It would place a contractual obligation on the system operators to accept renewable electricity from New Zealanders.
The FiT contract period might be 20 years. The fixed price might differ between renewable technologies and would reduce over time for new FiT contracts as technologies mature.
Proponents say that, if introduced in New Zealand, a FiT would pay consumers to produce electricity, rather than simply charging them to use it. They say that it would provide the incentive needed to get small-scale Distributed Generation introduced into New Zealand.
But the Government has shown little interest in FiTs, and opinion is far from unanimous among supporters of a sustainable energy system that they are a good idea.
Who's right, and what should the Government do? The Sustainable Energy Forum (SEF) has decided to find out. SEF is holding a seminar in Wellington on Friday, 10 September, in which the case for and against Feed-in Tariffs will be made.
Stephan Heubeck of REFIT-NZ, an organisation advocating the introduction of feed-in tariffs in New Zealand, will speak in favour of their introduction. Energy analyst Steve Goldthorpe will offer a more cautious view. There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.
The seminar takes place from 12.15-1.30pm in the Large Gallery, Turnbull House, 11 Bowen St, Wellington this coming Friday. Admission is by koha.

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