Feed-In Tariff 

Small projects, tremendous change. 

How It Works

How It Works

As part of its efforts to promote local renewable energy projects, MCE has a standard-offer contract, called a Feed-In Tariff, available to anyone in the MCE service area (Marin County and Richmond) wishing to sell the power output from small-scale renewable energy projects.

Project Size

Project Size

The Feed-In Tariff limits project size to 1 MW. However, there is capacity for a total of 10 MW under the program. The program offers a long-term 20-year contract, ensuring a stable power supply for MCE customers, with pricing varying by energy type.

San Rafael Airport

San Rafael Airport

MCE’s first Feed-In Tariff project was executed in October 2012 with the San Rafael Airport, which constructed the largest solar project in Marin County.

Marin's Largest Solar Project

Feed-In Tariff or Net Energy Metering?

MCE's Net Energy Metering (NEM) program allows a customer to power their home or business from a renewable generating system connected to their meter.

The Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program is designed to provide competitive, predictable energy prices for local small-scale renewable energy developers over a 20-year contract term. The standard agreement offered by MCE to eligible customer generators may provide the basis for securing project financing and should also provide a high level of certainty with respect to the revenue stream generated by the project. FIT program participants do not have to be MCE customers and projects may be outside of the MCE service territory, as long as they are located within Marin County or the City of Richmond.

Quick Links

APPLICABILITY: This Schedule is available to any Eligible Resources located within any member jurisdiction of the MCE (the “Eligible Territory”), which meets the eligibility requirements established in this Schedule.

Download: FIT Tariff

Download: FIT Application

Download: FIT PPA

Download: CEC-RPS-1 Form

Feed-In Tariff Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Feed-In Tariff, or FIT?

In general terms, a Feed-In Tariff (FIT) is a wholesale energy supply program offering standardized, long-term power purchase contracts to smaller scale renewable energy projects (generators).  Feed-In Tariffs virtually eliminate the need for contract negotiations. 

Does MCE offer a Feed-In Tariff program?

Yes! MCE offers one of the most competitively priced FIT programs in California. In fact, the primary purpose of MCE’s FIT program is to incentivize and support the development of locally-situated renewable energy projects, including solar, wind and other eligible technologies. 

What is MCE's Feed-In Tariff, or FIT?

MCE’s Feed-In Tariff (FIT) is a wholesale renewable energy purchase program that allows owners/developers of small-scale (up to 1 megawatt in size), locally situated renewable energy projects to become long-term suppliers for MCE customers. At this point in time, all participating projects must be located within the MCE service territory, which includes Marin County and the City of Richmond (located in Contra Costa County). Once the project owner/developer enters into a FIT contract with MCE and interconnects to PG&E’s distribution system, or “grid”, MCE will pay for electric energy generated by the project, consistent with the terms and conditions of the standard FIT contract. Interested participants are encouraged to review the MCE Feed-In Tariff website – www.mcecleanenergy.org/fit – for additional information, participatory requirements and pertinent documents. 

What is a standardized contract or "standard offer"?

A standardized contract, or standard offer, is a process used throughout the electric utility industry to simplify the contracting process associated with certain requisite energy products, particularly renewable energy. A FIT power purchase contract is one key example of a standard offer. Standard offers typically specify clearly defined participatory requirements and contract documents that may not be negotiated by either party (buyer or seller). To the extent that prospective participants are able to satisfy all applicable participatory requirements (without exception), the sponsoring utility will execute a power purchase contract (i.e., the standardized contract), creating a long-term supplier relationship with the seller. Smaller-scale project developers/owners may benefit from these processes by eliminating the need for prolonged negotiating efforts, related legal and administrative expenses, and delayed development timelines. 

Has MCE contracted with any local FIT projects?

Yes. In 2012, MCE began receiving renewable energy deliveries from its first FIT project, which is located at the San Rafael Airport. This project utilizes roof-mounted photovoltaic solar panels to produce peak electric output of nearly one megawatt. MCE’s FIT contract with the San Rafael Airport specifies a 20-year delivery term, so MCE customers will benefit from this local project for quite some time. For additional information related to the San Rafael Airport project, please visit the following link: https://mcecleanenergy.org/local-power. 

If I have a Feed-In Tariff project in mind, who will interconnect my project to the grid?

PG&E and MCE work in partnership to provide a broad range of services for their customers, and as the organization responsible for distribution system planning, maintenance and safety, PG&E will be your primary point of contact for all matters related to generator interconnection. For matters related to generator interconnection, all questions should be directed to wholesalegen@pge.com. PG&E representatives should be able to assist you in identifying applicable procedural requirements, potential costs and pertinent scheduling details related to your specific project(s). While completing PG&E’s interconnection process, prospective MCE FIT participants should remain in contact with MCE staff to coordinate the contracting process and other key elements of the FIT relationship. Once a FIT Application is submitted to MCE, you will be assigned a designated point of contact within MCE to facilitate various elements of the FIT process. 

What are the interconnection requirements for a FIT project?

As the organization responsible for distribution system planning, maintenance and safety, PG&E is responsible for overseeing small generator interconnection, including most FIT projects. Eligible FIT generators must follow PG&E’s prescribed small generator interconnection procedures, which can be reviewed on the following PG&E website: http://www.pge.com/en/b2b/energytransmissionstorage/newgenerator/index.page. Please be advised that a FIT application can only be approved (creating eligibility for FIT contract execution by MCE) after the project/project developer receives an executed interconnection agreement from PG&E. 

I've heard that I have to interconnect using FERC rules, not CPUC rules - why is that?

All wholesale power purchase agreements are under FERC jurisdiction, unless FERC allows an exception. Depending on the interconnection voltage for an eligible renewable generation resource, the customer generator may need to follow PG&E (distribution level interconnection) or CAISO (transmission level interconnection) interconnection requirements. Most FIT projects will likely follow PG&E’s distribution interconnection process for small generators. 

Are there capacity (size) limitations that apply to MCE's FIT program?

Yes. Locally-situated renewable generating projects up to 1 megawatt in size may participate in MCE’s FIT program. One megawatt of renewable generating capacity is typically sufficient to supply the electric energy requirements of 300 to 1,500 residential customers, depending on the generating technology being used. For example, certain “intermittent” renewable generating technologies, including wind and solar, will likely support customer counts more closely aligned with the lower end of this range; “baseload” renewable generating technologies, including geothermal and biogas, may support larger numbers of customers. 

Can I locate a FIT project anywhere?

No. MCE FIT projects must be located within MCE’s service area, which includes Marin County and the City of Richmond (located in Contra Costa County). To the extent that MCE’s membership grows (through the inclusion of other California communities), its eligible FIT territory will expand accordingly. Please stay tuned for additional information regarding such changes. 

Will I need to obtain permits or complete environmental reviews when developing a FIT project?

Yes. Any interested FIT project developer is encouraged to contact local permitting authorities (e.g., the planning department of the city/town/county in which your project(s) may be located) as soon as prospective development sites are identified. Coordination with local planning authorities is critically important to ensure the identification of applicable permitting requirements, potential environmental reviews and other considerations that may impact project development schedules, costs and resource commitments. While MCE’s membership includes representatives from local jurisdictions, MCE’s operating and decision making authority do not cover such matters. Again, prospective FIT participants are encouraged to contact local planning authorities/agencies at their earliest opportunity to avoid development setbacks. Please be advised that a FIT application can only be approved (creating eligibility for FIT contract execution by MCE) after the project receives a conditional use permit (if required) or a Notice of Determination from the local planning agency stating that the project is exempt from environmental review. 

What is an eligible renewable generation resource?

An eligible renewable generation resource is defined as an electric generating facility meeting the California Renewables Portfolio Standard eligibility requirements described in the California Energy Commissions’ Renewables Portfolio Standard Guidebook. Please reference the following document for specific guidelines: www.energy.ca.gov/2013publications/CEC-300-2013-005/CEC-300-2013-005-ED7....

An eligible renewable generation resource must also meet the criteria established in MCE’s FIT, which specifies limitations related to project size, location, commercial operation date and other pertinent details. Please visit the following link for additional details: https://mcecleanenergy.org/fit

Do I have to be an MCE customer or in the MCE service territory to participate in the FIT program?

No. You do not have to be an MCE customer or in the MCE service territory to participate in the FIT program. However, to participate, your renewable generating project must be located entirely within Marin County or the City of Richmond and must meet the other project criteria identified in MCE’s FIT: www.mceCleanEnergy.org/PDF/FIT_Tariff_11.01.12.pdf

Is there such a thing as an "ideal" FIT project location?

While it’s incredibly difficult to determine an “ideal” project development location, MCE recommends that project sponsors consider a broad range of potential project impacts prior to site selection. For example, project sponsors should gain a comprehensive understanding of key criteria that may directly affect their development success, including but not limited to status quo development conditions, general suitability for future project development, ownership (and likelihood of gaining site control), zoning designations, potential environmental impacts (e.g., impacts to wildlife, the visual landscape, noise, traffic, etc.), proximity to reasonable points of interconnection (to PG&E’s distribution system). To the extent that the use of certain development sites will minimize environmental impacts and general land disturbance, such sites may be better suited for FIT project development. If you are interested in participating in MCE’s FIT program and have specific development site in mind, please contact local planning authorities to begin identifying possible development issues that may affect your project. 

After my FIT contract is signed, will I have any ongoing obligations to maintain my renewable generating project?

Likely, yes. Virtually all FIT projects will require a certain level of ongoing maintenance to ensure proper operation, particularly power production, over time. For example, photovoltaic solar arrays may require periodic cleaning/washing to eliminate dust and debris as well as mowing and vegetation maintenance/removal. Similarly, biogas generators may require periodic mechanical maintenance to ensure the proper operation of power-producing engines and related equipment. Specific maintenance requirements will vary considerably based on site selection and the selected generating technology. MCE encourages prospective FIT project sponsors to confer with experienced developers and/or qualified consultants to determine ongoing obligations early in the development cycle. 

How much will MCE pay FIT program participants for the power produced?

Current FIT pricing reflects the market value of renewable energy as well as related incentives that may be necessary to promote local project development. FIT prices have been determined based on three distinct energy delivery profiles – one of which will apply to each prospective renewable generation resource based on the manner in which the generator expects to produce and deliver energy to MCE. The following tables provide additional detail regarding energy pricing for each of MCE’s FIT pricing options. Please see MCE’s FIT website – https://mcecleanenergy.org/fit – for additional detail regarding FIT pricing. 

Prices Shall Apply Under the Following Conditions

Peak Energy Prices (20-year Term, $/MWh)

Baseload Energy Prices (20-year Term, $/MWh)

Intermittent Energy Prices (20-year Term, $/MWh)

Condition 1

$ 137.66

$ 116.49

$ 100.57

Condition 2

$ 120.00

$ 105.00

$ 95.00

Condition 3

$ 115.00

$ 100.00

$ 90.00

Condition 4

$ 110.00

$ 95.00

$ 85.00

Condition 5

$ 105.00

$ 90.00

$ 80.00

What are the five "conditions" that are referenced in MCE's FIT pricing schedule?

In its Integrated Resource Plan, MCE has identified a FIT capacity target of 10 megawatts, which it hopes to place under contract over the next several years. Based on recently observed reductions in the wholesale price of solar electricity and related renewable generating technologies, MCE has developed a series of five “conditions” that are intended to promote near-term FIT development success (by offering highly competitive wholesale prices) while acknowledging that certain technological improvements, increased demand and related expansions of capabilities in the supply chain may eventually reduce the cost of renewable energy within the state of California. As such, the MCE pricing “conditions” trigger moderate reductions in FIT pricing that will occur as increasing quantities of FIT capacity are successfully developed and placed under contract. As with any MCE program, the FIT, including referenced pricing conditions, will be periodically reviewed to ensure that MCE’s policy and resource planning objectives are effectively promoted… and eventually achieved. 

What are "Peak," "Baseload" and "Intermittent" energy delivery profiles?

IMCE has simplified its FIT pricing schedule by eliminating the use of Time of Delivery (TOD) factors that typically apply in FIT programs administered by other utilities. In traditional FIT programs, TOD factors are applied to a base energy price, resulting in upwards or downwards adjustments to this base price, depending on the time of day and season in which the FIT project produced and delivered electric energy. This process imposes certain administrative burdens on both the energy buyer and seller. In an effort to eliminate this administrative burden, MCE developed a three-level FIT pricing model that is simply differentiated by the typical energy production characteristics of eligible generators – under MCE’s FIT, the price received by participating generators remains flat (i.e., unchanged) and predictable throughout the 20-year contract term. For example, solar generators, which typically deliver electric energy during “peak” periods, will receive a flat energy price that reflects the relatively high value of energy that is delivered during the middle of each day. Alternatively, “baseload” generators, which use fuel sources like biogas and geothermal, and deliver power in a relatively predictable, consistent manner during all hours of the day, will receive a slightly reduced price. Finally, truly “intermittent” generators, which utilize wind as the primary fuel source, will receive the lowest FIT price due to the unpredictable nature of related energy deliveries – such uncertainty may impose planning challenges and related portfolio management costs. The following table provides additional information regarding each delivery profile and the delivery characteristics associated with each. 

Energy Delivery Profile

Delivery Characteristics

Representative Fuel Type

Peak

Under normal operating conditions, 90 percent or more of daily electric generating output is produced and delivered between the hours of 6:00 A.M. and 10:00 P.M. (On-Peak Hours)

Photovoltaic Solar and Solar Thermal

Baseload

Under normal operating conditions, the annual capacity factor for the generator typically exceeds 75 percent, inclusive of planned outages (maintenance)

Landfill Gas, Biomass, Fuel Cell

Intermittent

Delivery characteristics are not consistent with either of the described Peak or Baseload Energy Delivery Profiles

Wind

Can I terminate my FIT contract prior to the agreed upon termination date?

No. FIT program participants may not prematurely terminate related contracts with MCE, except by terms specifically identified in MCE’s standard agreement. 

Can I get a state rebate (administered by PG&E) for building a renewable project and also sell my power to MCE through the FIT program?

Not at this time. The California Public Utilities Commission decided that customers who participate in the Feed-In Tariff are not eligible for rebates from the publicly funded Self Generation Incentive Program or the California Solar Initiative. 

Does the project owner or MCE own the environmental attributes of a FIT project?

MCE will own any and all environmental attributes associated with renewable generation produced by a participating FIT resource/project. 

How are Feed-In Tariffs different from Net Energy Metering programs?

MCE’s FIT is designed to support renewable energy projects that have been developed with the primary purpose of exporting (and selling) the significant majority of all power production to MCE. By contrast, MCE’s NEM program has been designed to support customer-sited renewable generating projects that have been developed for the primary purpose of offsetting some or all of the customer-generator’s typical energy use on their electric bill. 

If my project delivers renewable power under a FIT contract, can it also participate in MCE's Net Energy Metering (NEM) program?

No. Projects participating in MCE’s FIT program may not also enroll in MCE’s NEM program. 

How do I know which program to choose - FIT or NEM?

In general, the NEM program is well suited for residential and certain commercial PV solar installations while the FIT is designed to accommodate all renewable generating technologies, many of which may be developed at a larger scale.

The “NEM vs. FIT” program decision is generally focused on the relationship between project size and on-site energy requirements. Residents and businesses may only receive rebates and incentives for solar systems that generally match the on-site energy requirements at their homes or businesses. Building larger systems may be permissible, subject to interconnection requirements/limitations, but incentives will not be available for the oversized portion of the system, which may substantially alter project economics. The FIT provides competitive, fixed pricing for small-scale (less than 1 MW) projects to minimize the adverse impacts related to decreased rebates/incentives, which may change over time

How do I determine if it is more financially viable to participate in the FIT or NEM program for my particular project?

Participating in the FIT program may be more financially advantageous for stand-alone projects (developed independent of a home or business) or projects that anticipate producing significantly more power than will be needed on-site. Numerous factors may affect such analyses and prospective FIT participants are encouraged to consult with experienced installers/developers, tax accountants, financial advisors, consultants, etc. to ensure that all assumptions, projected results and related risks are reasonable and clearly understood.

For projects more closely matched in size with on-site demand, participating in the NEM program may provide better financial incentives (as these projects will most likely be eligible for state-sponsored rebates/incentives and surplus generation compensation based on applicable retail tariffs). Prospective NEM participants are encouraged to request detailed financial projections from experienced installers to better understand project economics

 

Developing Stable Local Energy Sources

MCE is helping facilitate the growth of sustainable energy generation.

Leading The Way

MCE’s first Feed-In Tariff project was executed in October 2012 with the San Rafael Airport, which constructed the largest solar project in Marin County.

As a model of business working to create local ‘green’ jobs, Synapse Electric - which built the project - hired 20 workers specifically for this project through the Marin City Community Development Corporation and CLP Resources. Synapse also hired 3 new locally-based, full-time employees. San Rafael-based company REP Energy designed the installation, and the REC Group manufactured 85% of the solar panels, which are American-made. Power-One supplied all of the inverters, which are also American-made.

The project was financed locally by the Bank of Marin and businessman Joe Shekou.

Developing A Project Plan

The FIT provides competitive, fixed pricing for small-scale (less than 1 MW) projects to minimize the adverse impacts related to decreased rebates/incentives.

All eligible renewable generation resources that will be interconnecting with the local distribution system must follow PG&E's prescribed small generator interconnection procedures. Prospective project developers should access the following PG&E website, which will be helpful in determining applicable interconnection requirements:

PG&E Information