GaSU wins at GA PSC, but will GaSU help all of us win in the legislature?

GA PSC Stan Wise’s 2009 nuclear CWIP lobbying points eerily matched Southern Company’s, but suddenly he’s got separation-of-powers religion about Georgia Solar Utilities (GaSU). The PSC recommended GaSU’s utility bid anyway. When the legislature takes that up in a month or so, will GaSU CEO Robert Green, unlike SO or Georgia Power or Stan Wise, help the rest of us little people fix the 1973 Territoriality law so we can sell our solar electricity on a free market?

Dave Williams wrote for the Atlanta Business Chronicle yesterday, Georgia Public Service Commission moves ahead on solar energy,

Georgia Power logo The Georgia Public Service Commission approved a plan by Georgia Power Co. Tuesday to acquire an additional 210 megawatts of solar generating capacity, more than tripling its investment in solar energy.

GA PSC PR about 20 November 2012 decisions But a sharply divided PSC also gave a potential competitor to Georgia Power its blessing to appeal to the General Assembly to amend a 39-year-old law that gives the Atlanta-based utility the exclusive right to continue serving existing customers.

Under Georgia Power’s Advanced Solar Initiative, the company will buy solar power produced by both large “utility-scale” solar farms and from smaller projects operated by residential and commercial property owners.

Right, that’s actually only 10 Megawatts from “smaller projects”, maintaining Georgia Power’s monopoly while throwing throwing a bone to the rest of us.

While the PSC supported Georgia Power’s plan unanimously, a subsequent motion by McDonald encouraging other solar utilities interested in serving Georgia to pursue their plans with the legislature passed by the narrow margin of 3-2.

Georgia Solar Utilities Inc., a company launched in Macon, Ga., earlier this year, filed an application with the PSC in September for authority to generate solar energy in Georgia on a utility scale.

The two Nay votes were from the two recently-reelected PSC members, apparently now thoroughly in the pocket of the incumbent utilities. Here’s one of them now:

But Commissioner Stan Wise said the PSC has no business taking sides on an issue likely to go before Georgia lawmakers.

“If they’re successful across the street, so be it,” he said, referring to the location of the state Capitol. “[But] for us to involve ourselves in what goes on across the street is inappropriate.”

My, hasn’t Stan Wise gotten separation-of-powers religion recently! More recently than 26 February 2009, when he testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment Hearing on Renewable Energy:

My name is Stan Wise. I am a publicly elected Commissioner of the Georgia Public Service Commission. As a regulator, I am responsible for ensuring that retail electricity customers receive safe, reasonably priced, reliable electric service. Solar Megawatts bar chart I am concerned that a “one size fits all” federal Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) mandate fails to recognize that there are significant differences among the states and regions in terms of available and cost-effective renewable energy resources, and that having such a standard in energy legislation will ultimately increase consumers’ electricity bills.

We should be discussing ways to promote clean energy of all types. We need to develop and deploy all energy sources that can ensure an adequate supply of energy in the future, that can power our economy and that moves us toward improving our environment, especially in ways that reduce greenhouse gases. Major energy sources that can meet those needs include nuclear, coal with carbon capture and sequestration, natural gas, energy efficiency as well as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal.

Stan Wise Thomas A. Fanning It’s funny how Wise’s list of energy sources is exactly the same in exactly the same order as that of Southern Company CEO Thomas A. Fanning. Wise and Fanning: separated at birth? Or just similarly financed? Hey, we can always use more than the 32 reactors we’ve already got within 500 miles of Valdosta!

The very same day that Wise testified, the Georgia House voted on three-legged nuclear regulatory-capture stool SB 31, the Georgia Nuclear Energy Financing Act that approved Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) charges by Georgia Power for electricity from the new nukes at Plant Vogtle that customers won’t get for years if ever, CWIP, the first leg of Southern Company’s three-legged nuclear regulatory-capture stool. The stool that supports SO and Georgia Power’s nuclear boondogle on the Savannah River while other states get on with installing wind and solar power, but not Georgia.

Back to the ABC story:

1973 Georgia Territorial Electric Service Act But the commission’s staff recommended that the PSC dismiss the application, citing the 1973 Georgia Territorial Electric Service Act.

Rather than dismiss the proposal outright, however, the commission in essence urged Georgia Solar Utilities to appeal to the General Assembly to amend that law and open up the solar business to competition.

Right, the PSC tossed the hot potato to the legislature that approved CWIP with SB 31. I suppose that’s better than recommending against it.

Lower Rates for Customers LLC I recommend to GaSU, as I have before, that if they want to win they need broad-based public support, and if they want that they need to go beyond just lobbying to get GaSU approved as another utility. they need to be more pro-active about supporting “smaller projects” such as housetop and business roof solar. And that means lobbying to change the 1973 Territorial Electric Service Act to enable a free market in locally-generated electricity, sellable through each rooftop’s local utility to a variety of buyers, with the utility taking a cut for carriage. Please, don’t just say you tried to contact Dr. Smith once and that’s it. Dr. Smith tried to win at the legislature last session without much public support, and lost. You could lose, too. Or you could win with public support.

GaSU logo Robert Green, CEO of Georgia Solar Utilities, said his company is prepared to fight for its right to compete for business in Georgia when lawmakers convene this winter.

That’s great, GaSU CEO Green, but what about the right of the rest of us to do what’s legal in about 46 other states, but not in Georgia? If you want us to help you, you need to help us. Remember, January 2013 is also when Georgia Power raises rates. That would be a perfect time to get Georgia Power customers on your side, especially if you give them some reason to believe you are on their side.