The Feasibility of a Solar Feed-In Tariff Program for the State of Oregon: A Case Study of Eugene Water & Electric Board
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Background: The Solar Photovoltaic (PV) industry has been developing rapidly worldwide, generating clean energy and offsetting carbon emissions. In 2007, Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB) launched its current solar programs: direct generation and residential net-metering. Since then, the number of local solar installations has increased every year. Aim: The aim of this study is to determine the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) generation to residential solar electric systems owners between 2007 and 2011. This paper also investigates the appropriate level of FIT rates for a feed-in tariff (FIT) program based on the conditions of different years. Method: A quantitative analysis of levelized cost for 121 residential net-metered programs and calculation of FIT rates for a FIT program has been employed. Interviews with professionals were used to supplement quantitative research. Results: In general, levelized cost for solar electricity generation decreased significantly on a year-to-year basis. FIT rates for a FIT also showed similar decrease. In 2011, FIT rate for a 25-year FIT program with 5% return on investment (ROI) was 16 cents/kWh after taking into consideration federal and state tax credits. FIT rate is likely to reach retail rate grid parity with retail electricity price sometime between 2020 and 2027. Conclusion: The findings support the notion that it is feasible to design a feed-in tariff program with periodic adjustment in FIT rate based on levelized cost in Eugene. Recommendations have been made to further promote distributed solar PV deployment.