What electric utilities fear most: bipartisan support for distributed rooftop solar financing. You can call your legislator and support HB 874, the Solar Power Free-Market Financing and Property Rights Act of 2014.
Dave Williams wrote for the Atlanta Business Chronicle 28 January 2014, Ga. Republican unveils solar bill,
The bill would let property owners lease solar panels instead of having to buy them with cash up front, said Georgia Rep. Mike Dudgeon, R-Johns Creek, the bill’s sponsor.
“We want to make it clear that you can use whatever financing is available to finance your solar panel,” Dudgeon said.
Previous attempts by other lawmakers to grow Georgia’s solar industry by opening the market to third party financing have failed to gain headway in the General Assembly.
Dudgeon said his bill is drawn more narrowly to avoid conflicting with the state’s Territorial Act, a 40-year-old law that gives Georgia Power Co. the exclusive right to serve its existing customers.
“This is primarily looking at personal use on your own property,” he said.
Sure, that’s narrower than co-sponsor Karla Drenner’s former HB 503 for renewable porfolio standards. And it’s directed at the main problem with that antique 1973 Territorial Electric Service Act: that old Act makes financing solar difficult. It is the main reason Georgia gets an F for solar energy policy. This new HB 874 is narrow exactly in the place that will make the most difference: on your roof, which will enable a grid with a million solar rooftops.
Why do you think Georgia Power is concentrating on big utility-scale solar projects instead? Because rooftop solar doesn’t fit into their cozy century-long baseload business model. As David Roberts wrote for Grist 11 April 2013, Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities, it’s not just that utilities don’t own your solar panels, so from their point of view you’re taking away revenue from their nukes and coal and methane plants,
It’s worse than that, though. Solar power peaks at midday, which means it is strongest close to the point of highest electricity use — “peak load.” Problem is, providing power to meet peak load is where utilities make a huge chunk of their money. Peak power is the most expensive power. So when solar panels provide peak power, they aren’t just reducing demand, they’re reducing demand for the utilities’ most valuable product.
Solar is already cheaper than any fossil fuel or nuclear and it keeps getting cheaper, driving up deployments like compound interest. Solar will win like the Internet did. The solar train is leaving the station. This bill will pass this year, or something even better will pass next year. Georgia Power can get on board or get run over.
LC 36 2459
House Bill 874
By: Representatives Dudgeon of the 25th, Brockway of the 102nd, Setzler of the 35th, Drenner of the 85th, Jacobs of the 80th, and others
A BILL TO BE ENTITLEDTo amend Article 1 of Chapter 3 of Title 46 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated,
relating to the generation and distribution of electricity generally, so as to provide that a retail
electric customer may install solar technology for the generation of electric energy for use
primarily on property owned or occupied by such customer; to provide a short title; to
provide declarations and findings; to provide definitions of certain terms; to provide for
financing of the purchase and installation of solar technology by retail electric customers; to
prohibit electric utilities from interfering with such financing, purchase, and installation; to
clarify what constitutes the provision of electric service and who shall be considered an
electric utility; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA:Article 1 of Chapter 3 of Title 46 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to the
generation and distribution of electricity generally, is amended by adding a new part to read
This part shall be known and may be cited as the ‘Solar Power Free-Market Financing and
Property Rights Act of 2014.’
The General Assembly hereby finds and declares that:
(1) It is in the public interest to encourage free choice for customers of electric utilities
to save on their power bills by investing in current technologies;
(2) Such technologies include energy efficient lighting, energy efficient appliances and
air-conditioning systems, and solar technologies for the on-site generation of electricity;
(3) Free-market financing of solar technologies will provide more customers with
opportunities to increase energy and cost savings;
(4) Leases, power purchase agreements, and other similar arrangements are financing
arrangements which serve to reduce or eliminate up-front costs involved in solar
technology investments by electric utility customers, thereby creating immediate cost
saving opportunities; and
(5) Electric utility customers who finance their investment in solar technology and those
individuals and entities which offer such financing opportunities through leases or power
purchase agreements should not be considered or treated as an electric utility for any
purpose under this title.
As used in this part, the term:
(1) ’Electric service provider’ means any electric utility, electric membership corporation,
or municipal electric utility that is engaged in the business of distributing electricity to
retail electric customers in this state.
(2) ’Electric supplier’ means any electric light and power company subject to regulation
by the commission, any electric membership corporation furnishing retail service in this
state, and any municipality which furnishes retail service in this state.
(3) ’Electric utility’ includes an electric service provider and an electric supplier.
(4) ’Retail electric customer’ means a person who purchases electric service from an
electric utility for such person’s use and not for the purpose of resale.
(5) ’Solar financing agent’ means an individual or entity whose primary business is the
installation or financing of solar technology on property owned or occupied by a retail
electric customer primarily for the on-site generation of electric energy.
(a) A retail electric customer may install any solar technology for the generation of electric
energy for use primarily on property owned or occupied by such customer. Such solar
technology and its installation may be financed by the retail electric customer through a
solar financing agent utilizing a loan, lease, power purchase agreement, or any other form
of financing agreement.
(b) No electric utility shall prevent or otherwise interfere with the installation or financing
of solar technology by a retail electric customer through a solar financing agent pursuant
to subsection (a) of this Code section.
(a) Provisions in a loan, lease, power purchase agreement, or other form of financing
agreement for payments to a solar financing agent by a retail electric customer based on
the amount of electricity furnished to such customer shall not be considered the provision
of electric service to the public, retail electric service, or the retail supply of electricity by
the solar financing agent, and neither such retail electric customer nor such solar financing
agent shall be considered an electric supplier by virtue of such provisions.
(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a solar financing agent shall not be
considered an electric utility for any purpose under this title."
All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.