Solar works for Georgia —GSEA

Back in June, the Georgia Solar Energy Association (GSEA) held a Solar Summit in Atlanta, in which we learned there were four certified solar installers in Georgia four years ago, and now there are forty; that oil for energy is a national security risk (Col. Dan Nolan), and that “Solar is great for diversity, independence, research, and business.” (Chuck Eaton), and that Georgia is the third top state “that would benefit from solar deployment through generating and exporting energy to other states” (Richard Polich). Sounds like a business opportunity to me!

GSEA chair Doug Beebe elaborates in a column in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on 11 September 2011, Solar energy already works in Georgia, but it can do so much more for our state’s economy,

This has been a great year for the Georgia Solar Energy Association, too. Our membership has swelled to almost 300 corporate and individual members. This number includes manufacturers, installers, integrators, consultants and advocates who want to see Georgia benefit from an industry that contributed more than $5 billion in economic activity to the U.S. gross domestic product since 2008 and now employs more than 93,000 workers nationwide.

Our annual Southern Solar Summit in Atlanta this summer sold out, filling the auditorium at the Georgia Tech Research Institute Conference Center with Georgians eager to learn what innovations are making solar power more accessible in Georgia and beyond. Another annual Solar Summit in Savannah last month doubled its attendance this year, proving that interest in solar has spread beyond metro Atlanta.

The 2011 Georgia Solar Tour will feature sites statewide. We hope that some of the participants in this year’s tour will become hosts in next year’s.

Great, huh? So what’s the problem? This:
But, sadly, Georgia’s portion of the fast-growing solar market is tiny – less than 1 percent – because Georgia’s leadership has not yet embraced many of the policy initiatives that spurred solar investment to flourish in places like New Jersey and North Carolina. Yet, a University of Arizona study shows that Georgia ranks third in the nation for solar energy potential.

Georgia remains one of only three states with specific legal barriers to private, third-party Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). Almost half the states, 21, have legal PPA frameworks, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. In many other states, PPAs have helped make solar energy more affordable and have paved the way to creative strategies that make solar energy more widely available at every level of the economic spectrum.

And our state also has no official goal for renewable energy as a proportion of its total consumption. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that 29 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have established renewable portfolio goals.

Finally, some homeowners’ associations, unaware of the value-enhancing contribution of solar installations to neighborhood property, resist residents’ efforts to deploy solar within reasonable aesthetic guidelines.

All that plus local governments and businesses don’t have to wait on the state: see next post.

PS: Owed to Bill Branham.