"The Rooftop Revolution"

This winter, as Congress was scrambling to pass the stimulus package, the bottom fell out of the renewable energy sector -- the very industry that lawmakers have held out as our best hope of salvaging the economy. Trade groups like the American Wind Energy Association ... began predicting that new installations would plunge .... Solar panel manufacturers that had been blazing a trail of growth announced a wave of layoffs. ...

But there is one place where capital is still flowing: Gainesville, Florida. Even as solar panels are stacking up in warehouses around the country, this city of 120,000 is gearing up for a solar power boom, fueled by homegrown businesses and scrappy investors who have descended on the community and are hiring local contractors to install photovoltaic panels on rooftops around town."

The reason? Gainesville has something called a "feed-in tariff," which requires utilities to buy power from small generators. Mariah Blake reports in the March-April issue of Washington Monthly.

Monday, May 11, 2009