Zero percent down solar installations for Georgia? Change a 1973 law first

Who would pass up cutting their monthly electric and transportation costs by 60%? Well, people in Georgia will get passed by unless we change an antique 1973 law.

Chris Mooney wrote for Washington Post 24 December 2014, How solar power and electric cars could make suburban living awesome again,

…the solar-EV combo may just be too good for suburbanites to pass up — no matter their political ideology. Strikingly, the new paper estimates that for a household that buys an electric vehicle and also owns a solar panel system generating enough power for both the home and the electric car, the monthly cost might be just $89 per month — compared with $255 per month for a household driving a regular car without any solar panels.

I’m no fan of sprawl, which has plenty of other problems ranging from watershed damage to excessive road rights of way to taxes spent on subsidizing developers through road and bridge building. But at least solar panels plus electric vehicles would reduce some of the problems with existing suburbs.

This dramatic savings becomes possible to contemplate, notes the study, due to the growing prevalence of $0 down payment options both for installing solar panels, and for buying electric vehicles.

But that kind of option is exactly what that 1973 Territorial Electric Service Act prohibits for Georgians.

Electric vehicles and solar panels keep getting better — and cheaper. Teslas have improved in range from the original 2008 Tesla Roadster, which could drive 245 miles without recharging, to the Tesla Model S, which can travel 265 miles. And the researchers show that for other plug-in hybrid or battery electric vehicles — the Chevy Volt, Toyota Prius plug-in, Ford Focus Electric, and Nissan Leaf — the trend is similar.

For each of these cars from 2011/2012 through 2014, the paper shows, vehicle price declined even as for several models (Volt, Leaf) the miles per gallon equivalent actually increased — and for the other two (Ford Focus Electric, Prius) it held constant. “These suggestive results highlight the fact that the cost of ownership of electric vehicles in the United States is falling,” note the authors.

For solar power, meanwhile, the numbers are way more dramatic. The authors cite a stunning figure from Clean Technica: From 1977 to today, the average cost of a solar panel declined from $ 76.67 per watt to $ 0.613 per watt!

And solar and wind are already beating natural gas for new installed generation.

The article revisits financing, with the example of:

SolarCity allows you to pay for your solar installation from the money that the solar installation itself creates by generating energy. That means that households don’t have to make any down payment, and don’t have to pay for the system’s maintenance. They can just let the sun itself pay it off.

But that’s done through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), which is exactly what that 1973 Georgia law doesn’t allow. There will be a bill in the legislature this year, like every year since about 2000. This January is the time to pass it, now that even Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning owns a Tesla.

PS: Owed to John Pate.