The Irrationality of Complicated Subsidies

Date: 1 Nov 2010 | posted in: Energy | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

But assuming we can agree that there’s good reason to subsidize solar power, as well as other forms of low-carbon electricity (including nuclear), you have to ask — is this hodge-podge of loan guarantees, federal funds and ratepayer support an efficient way to do so? Wouldn’t it be better to enact a steep carbon tax, and then let all forms of energy compete? Should a friend of mine who lives in upscale Los Altos and put a $35,000 solar system on his roof be subsidized by the rest of us? Is this going to lead us to a sustainable energy future, one in which we can collectively make smart choices? I don’t know. But somehow I think not.

A great argument for a feed-in tariff as well.

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Vermont Says Its Feed-in Tariff Complies with Federal Law

Date: 20 Oct 2010 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

There’s been much discussion of whether state-based feed-in tariff policies comply with federal energy law, including PURPA and the Federal Power Act. Fortunately, the brilliant folks at NREL released a report earlier this year providing feed-in tariff policy design options for state policy makers [pdf]. Furthermore, the state of Vermont recently affirmed that their feed-in tariff policy conforms to federal law.

The PSB, the regulatory authority, ruled that no challenger, including DPS, had “demonstrated that the standard offer program is invalid”. Under Vermont law, the PSB has the “obligation to implement statutes passed by the legislature,” it said, and, thus, it was their duty to do so if the law is valid.

Some challengers suggested that the PSB suspend the program while it seeks clarification from FERC. The PSB ruled definitively saying that to seek clarification from FERC; the PSB would be making a determination that the program is invalid. The program is valid, says the PSB, therefore there’s no need to seek clarification.

Good news for a policy that delivers strong support for distributed renewable energy generation.

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Corporate Ownership Limitations

Date: 20 Nov 2008 | posted in: agriculture | 2 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Corporate owned farms tend to be large-scale operations that produce food for consumers who are widely dispersed geographically. They are also operations whose profits are more likely to end up in corporate headquarters than back in the local economy. And when corporate farming expands, those who farm the land become tenants rather than independent producers.… Read More

Cooperative Ownership

Date: 20 Nov 2008 | posted in: agriculture | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Increasingly, a small handful of corporations control inputs, credit, elevators, processing facilities, and markets necessary to grow and distribute agricultural products. Since the last half of the 19th century, farmer owned cooperatives have provided farmers a stronger presence in the marketplace and greater bargaining power to control the costs of inputs and the value of outputs. These new forms of agricultural cooperatives are commonly referred to as "value-added coops" or "new generation coops." In 1994, 2,200 marketing coops sold 31 percent of all U.S. farm commodities and 29 percent of the nation’s farm supplies.… Read More

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