Friday, December 30, 2011

How One City Achieved a Solar Surge

Sarah Hodgdon
December 16, 2011

Germany. Italy. Spain. Gainesville. Stumped?

These are among the worldwide leaders in solar power. That's right -- Gainesville, Florida, has surpassed the state of California, a solar giant, in solar installations per capita, with more than seven megawatts of new solar-power capacity added during the past three years. How did this medium-sized city of 125,000 in the middle of Florida do it?

Gainesville was one of the first cities in the U.S. to adopt a feed-in tariff, which pays owners of solar-power systems who feed energy back into the grid. Homeowners with solar panels receive 32 cents for each extra kilowatt-hour they generate -- a rate that is more economical for the utility than an upfront rebate program. And because feed-in tariffs offer long-term stability, solar projects are easier to finance.


Today, Gainesville's solar-power adoption rate outshines that of France, Japan, and the rest of the U.S. by a wide margin. By the end of the year, the city's solar capacity is expected to reach 1.5 million kilowatt-hours per month.



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