Between the price GRU offers for the electricity and state rebates for solar panel installation, the feed-in tariff should prove lucrative for those installing solar photovoltaics in the program.
However, the program is limited on a first-come, first-served basis to 4 new megawatts of electricity a year from solar power - more than double the megawatts produced locally a year ago.
The first change proposed Thursday would allow those people waiting in line to install solar panels in 2010 to install the panels now and be paid market rate for the energy the panels produce until the contract they've signed up for kicks in and they are able to receive the higher rate.
"We don't have anything in the program that allows us to pay them for electricity," said Ed Regan, assistant general manager of strategic planning at GRU. "If they're in the queue for 2010, a year for which we know the price, then we would let them build it early."
Another part of that is that GRU is proposing to reinstate the commercial net-metering system that was discontinued when the feed-in tariff was adopted.
Net metering allows people with solar panels to use their own electricity, and if there is any excess energy produced, GRU credits the bill.
The other changes are largely administrative in nature.
"There was a fair amount of gaming or jockeying for position that made us institute additional rules," Regan said of the somewhat unexpected rush that filled up all 4 megawatts of solar panels for the first year in a matter of days.
At least one person has challenged technical terms in the ordinance, arguing the language in the ordinance allows more solar energy to be installed every year, or that the ordinance has fixed prices out to the year 2030.
Regan recommended the commission approve language for the ordinance specifying that only 4 megawatts will be permitted in the program every year and that the ordinance should be changed so that the payout rate after the year 2010 says "to be determined."
"I think Gainesville can be proud to be on the forefront," Hunzinger said. "We have heard some criticism saying 'do not use Gainesville as a model.' To me that's personally, professionally disturbing to hear. However, I do understand there will be criticism. No good deed goes unpunished. The primary reason for implementing the (feed-in tariff) was to encourage solar PV installations in our service area."