39. Clean Local Energy Accessible Now (CLEAN) Program
Today, the United States primarily relies on energy generation from large-scale, fossil fuel and nuclear power plants, located far from the communities where energy demand is greatest. 
 Unfortunately, too much energy policy focuses on replacing these conventional power plants with correspondingly large renewable energy facilities. Yet, large-scale renewables face many of the same significant barriers as large-scale conventional plants, including long project development lead-times, frequent delays in the permitting and construction of new transmission lines, complex environmental impacts and concerns, and often intense community opposition to such projects. In contrast, local, renewable energy projects avoid many of these costly barriers and can put America on a path towards a timely and lasting energy independence.
Clean Local Energy Accessible Now (CLEAN) Programs are the world’s most effective policy for quickly, and cost-effectively, bringing renewable energy online. CLEAN Programs drive the vast majority of renewable energy deployments in the world, including about 90% of the solar and biomas deployments, by making it cheaper, easier, and less risky to turn underused spaces — including rooftops, landfills, and parking lots — into places where energy is generated from the sun, wind, biomass, and other renewable sources. The result is lower electric bills, localized economic development, less pollution, and a more resilient energy system. Communities throughout the nation have demonstrated that CLEAN Programs make it possible to scale local renewable energy generation quickly and cost-effectively. A CLEAN program is a proven policy tool that unleashes rapid local renewable energy development by reducing risks, transaction costs, and complexities involved in selling clean energy from underused spaces in communities. And these programs can be designed to have no impact on electric rates — demonstrated by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), which brought 100 megawatts of local solar energy online in two years at no additional cost to ratepayers. Notably, 100 megawatts of local solar in the SMUD service territory is equivalent to 2.5 gigawatts of local solar across the state of California. By implementing CLEAN Programs, cities like Sacramento empower community members to participate in the clean energy economy by making it easy to sell renewable energy to the local utility at a predetermined, fixed price for an extended period of time. This approach enables communities to leverage private investment to meet community goals. CLEAN Programs also create a stable market for local renewable energy projects by removing the main barriers to Wholesale Distributed Generation (WDG) project development (Note that WDG is the market segment in which local energy is sold to the utility, and WDG represents the vast majority of renewable energy that has been deployed in the world): ▪ Procurement: The high risks and transaction costs of securing a contract to sell energy to the local utility is the first major barrier that each WDG project must overcome. By standardizing contract terms and rates, CLEAN Programs dramatically reduce the risks and transaction costs involved in the procurement process. ▪ Interconnection: Gaining access to the utility’s distribution grid is the second major barrier for WDG projects. Grid interconnection processes are generally opaque, expensive, and unpredictable. By making the process more transparent and streamlined, CLEAN Programs pave the way for a smooth transition to greater reliance on local renewable energy. ▪ Financing: Attracting financing is the third largest barrier to WDG, because of the complexity, risks, and added costs associated with existing procurement and interconnection processes. By streamlining procedures, increasing procedural transparency, reducing transaction costs, and guaranteeing wholesale rates from a stable purchaser (the utility), CLEAN Programs make WDG projects attractive to a larger pool of investors — including individuals, large corporations, and institutional investors. As a result, CLEAN Programs give property owners and investors the information necessary to evaluate the economic viability associated with installing renewable energy projects before investing significant levels of time and money. CLEAN Programs create open and competitive energy markets, giving all community members the opportunity to invest in clean energy projects without exposure to the high risks, transaction costs, and complexity that they would otherwise need to perilously navigate. CLEAN Programs also address our nation’s vulnerable power grid. Currently, any disruption in power generation or transmission on our highly centralized grid — from severe weather, mechanical malfunction, human error, or terrorist attack — can result in power failures affecting entire regions of the country. By decentralizing our power generation, we can create a more resilient energy system in the United States that is less vulnerable to widespread blackouts.
Why it should be recognized:
While the CLEAN Program approach is relatively new in the United States, these programs (internationally known as “feed-in tariffs”) have proven to be the most effective policy solution for spurring renewable energy installations globally. Meister Consultants Group credits CLEAN Programs for 86% of the solar capacity deployed in the world in 2009; and this percentage keeps increasing. Since implementing a CLEAN Program in 2009, Gainesville, Florida continues to demonstrate the environmental and economic benefits of clean local energy. The city’s solar photovoltaic capacity has increased by 3,500% and created 260 local jobs, while only increasing energy prices by less than 1%. Gainesville, currently with more than 16 megawatts of solar generating capacity and 200,000 residents, now boasts an installed solar capacity per capita total that is more than triple the United States average. Across the country, more local leaders are recognizing the benefits of clean local energy, which include: ▪ Creating local jobs with private investment ▪ Improving the health of community members ▪ Locking long-term and reasonable electric rates for utility customers ▪ Providing a safer, more reliable energy infrastructure ▪ Achieving the renewable energy and sustainability goals of the community ▪ Staying competitive in the global race to research, develop, manufacture, and install renewable energy technologies
Submitted: Jan 14, 2013
Author: John Bernhardt
  • Energy (Resources)
  • Invention & Innovation (Human Systems)
  • Policies & Regulation (Human Systems)
  • Infrastructure (Regional)
  • Resource/Waste Management (Regional)
  • Utilities (Regional)
  • Energy Capture, Transport, Storage (Planetary System)
URL: http://www.clean-coalition.org/unleashing-clean/