It’s a win for jobs and clean air and plenty of water in Georgia! Doubled requirements on solar power, and a dozen coal plants shut down.
2, 4, 6, 8, solar power can’t wait!
The astroturf resistance fizzled, while the pro-solar grassroots coalition won. (Pictures of the two demonstrations by Ted Terry.)
525 megawatts more solar power required, on top of last year’s 210 megawatts, for more than 735 MW total. That’s still trailing New Jersey’s already-installed 1,000 MW, but it’s a big step forward.
The vote was either 4 to 1 ( Ray Henry of AP) or 3 to 2 (Georgia Sierra Club tweeting from the Commission chamber). As Ray Henry tweeted:
“All opposed, say aye.” Wait, what? #gapsc
I’m guessing at least one nay vote was Stan Wise, judging by these @gasierraclub tweets:
Sierra Club – Georgia Chapter:
Georgia Beyond Coal @GaBeyondCoal 2h
#GaPSC, Everett: remember Both @GeorgiaPower and PSC Staff Testified that #GaSolar Proposal will Not Raise Rates. #CleanEnergy
Georgia Beyond Coal @GaBeyondCoal 2h
#GaPSC Commissioner Stan Wise Going on an Extensive Irate Diatribe Against Clean Energy, His Colleagues, and @gasierraclub #GaSolar
Seth Gunning of GA Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal confirms:
Update 2013-07-12: from Seth Gunning
And Chuck Eaton. Eaton proposed an amendment that would increase the distributed generation in Mcdonalds proposal from 100mw to 250. That amendment was voted down by Echols, McDonald, and Everett. I think this is why Eaton did not support the proposal.
To clarify. Eaton and Wise voted against McDonalds solar proposal (Eaton was a nay because- we assume- his motion to expand distributed generation in the proposal failed). Wise was the only one who voted “no” on the final IRP order which included the approved 525mw of solar, Eaton did vote yes on that.
Joeff Davis wrote for Creative Loafing today, PSC approves plan ordering Georgia Power to add more solar power,
State regulators today approved a plan that would require Georgia Power to use more solar energy—a move the powerful utility, backed by some conservative organizations, fought. The actual impact of the plan that could add more than 525 megawatts of solar power in Georgia passed today by the Public Service Commission must still be analyzed.
But today’s hearing and vote capped several weeks of heated debate and questions about solar power’s future in Georgia. People on both sides of the issue packed a standing-room only hearing today at the PSC. Demonstrators called for more clean energy at a pro-solar energy rally in front of the Gold Dome. And inside the Capitol, a conservative group warned of financial consequences of expanding solar energy in Georgia.
The day started with roughly 40 pro-solar demonstrators rallying in front of the Gold Dome with sign and chants like “2, 4, 6, 8, solar power can’t wait.” Demonstrators, which included members of the Sierra Club and Georgia Tea Party Patriots, fanned across Washington Street in front of the Capitol. The group cheered when their enthusiasm was met by honking cars.
“I support clean energy, I support not blowing up the Appalachian Mountains [to obtain coal] and I prefer being on the right side of history,” said Chris Theal. Sierra Club volunteer Nina Dutton said she came to the rally because the PSC’s vote on solar energy offered an “unusual opportunity to push Georgia Power in the right direction.”
PR by Colleen Kiernan of Sierra Club and Ashten Bailey of GreenLaw today, HISTORIC ENERGY PLAN RETIRES ONE-FIFTH OF GEORGIA POWER’S COAL PLANTS , CREATES NEW SOLAR PROGRAM: Positions Georgia as Clean Energy Leader in the Southeast,
Today the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) voted to approve Georgia Power’s proposal to retire 20% of its coal plants and added a major new program to bring 525 megawatts (MW) of solar power developments to Georgia by 2016. The Sierra Club and GreenLaw commend the Commission for its initiative, which will help stabilize customer electricity rates while creating jobs and accelerating solar development in Georgia over the next several years. Groups from across the political spectrum came together Thursday morning to rally in support of solar. Only three turned out for the anti-solar rally hosted by Americans for Prosperity. See pictures here.
“Solar is the best bet against rising electric rates — the fuel will always be free and you’ll never have to spend millions on environmental controls,” said Colleen Kiernan, director of the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Georgia Power just filed for yet another rate increase to pay for obsolete, unnecessary coal plants, while Georgia’s Public Service Commission is providing true leadership and protecting consumers.”
Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald proposed the new solar developments as an amendment to Georgia Power’s proposed 2013 energy plan, which lays out how the utility will generate and purchase power for its customers for the next twenty years. The plan calls for 525 MW of new solar developments, to be developed in 2015 and 2016, extending and expanding last year’s Advanced Solar Initiative, which will bring 210 MW of solar power to Georgia by 2015. Georgia is fifth in the nation for solar energy potential, yet is currently ranked 38th for the total number of solar power projects installed.
“Before the Commission proposed this new solar development, Georgia Power’s long-term energy plan had no program to add clean energy,” said Ashten Bailey with GreenLaw. “With this new initiative, we’re no longer at the back of the pack and can truly compete to be a clean energy leader in the Southeast.”
Georgia Power currently has more generating capacity than is needed now or for the foreseeable future. As a result the Sierra Club, represented by GreenLaw, argued against new spending on coal units that are not needed to meet customer demand and will need new pollution control retrofits in order to meet health standards.
Today’s new solar proposal provides another opportunity for Georgia Power to completely phase out its expensive and unnecessary coal-burning units at Plant McIntosh. Nationwide, utilities are phasing out aging and dirty coal-fired power plants as clean energy powers more and more American homes and businesses. Since 2010, 149 coal-fired plants have been announced for retirement.
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