Innovative Feed-In Tariff Designs that Limit Policy Costs.
Kreycik, C.; Couture, T. D.; Cory, K. S.
Feed-in tariffs (FITs) are the most prevalent renewable energy policy used globally to date, and there are many benefits to the certainty offered in the marketplace to reduce development risks and associated financing costs and to grow the renewable energy industry. However, concerns over escalating costs in jurisdictions with FIT policies have led to increased attention on cost control in renewable energy policy design. In recent years, policy mechanisms for containing FIT costs have become more refined, allowing policymakers to exert greater control on policy outcomes and on the resulting costs to ratepayers. As policymakers and regulators in the United States begin to explore the use of FITs, careful consideration must be given to the ways in which policy design can be used to balance the policies' advantages while bounding its costs. This report explores mechanisms that policymakers have implemented to limit FIT policy costs. If designed clearly and transparently, such mechanisms can align policymaker and market expectations for project deployment. Three different policy tools are evaluated: (1) caps, (2) payment level adjustment mechanisms, and (3) auction-based designs. The report employs case studies to explore the strengths and weaknesses of these three cost containment tools. These tools are then evaluated with a set of criteria including predictability for policymakers and the marketplace and the potential for unintended consequences.