Today, there are statewide feed-in tariff programs in six states—California, Hawaii, Maine, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Challenges that a Name Can't Solve
Jimison, who hadn't heard of the CLEAN acronym, said making over feed-in tariffs with a new name might be "enough to modify its political acceptance."
Whether feed-in tariffs can achieve widespread adoption, however, will depend on more than the name, but on how the programs are designed.
Set the rates too low, for instance, and fewer renewable energy developers will seek contract offers. Set the rates too high, however, and demand for contracts may outpace supply, causing a spike in home electricity bills. In the past year, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom have slashed their feed-in tariffs after generous rates fueled solar booms that countries could no longer afford, which in some places caused job-creating growth to go bust and gave feed-in tariffs a bad name.
Deering said that LIPA's rate of 22 cents per kilowatt-hour is probably "on the low side" for commercial projects. But he believes it's high enough "to move the industry" while also being fair to customers.
Wang of the Clean Coalition said at this point, it's all about gaining strength in numbers.
"Now that the movement is really taking off, there are homegrown examples that people can learn from," she said. "When it comes to getting renewable energy on the ground, there's something to be said about tried and true."