"Variations on the policy that jumpstarted Germany’s decade-long boom in rooftop solar systems are taking root in more cities in the United States.
The policy, called a feed-in tariff, offers small-scale producers of solar energy long-term contracts (usually at above-market rates) for the electricity they sell. Last week, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which serves 1.4 million people, approved a feed-in tariff that allows homeowners with solar panels a chance to sign up for 10, 15 or 20 years of guaranteed payments. The policy will take effect next January. The city of Gainesville, Fla., adopted a feed-in tariff this spring, as did Vermont. Washington state also has such a policy, and Hawaii is currently considering one.
While feed-in tariffs are most closely associated with solar photovoltaic panels, utilities managing the programs in Vermont and Sacramento will also pay a set price for electricity generated from other renewable sources, like wind."