Georgia Power claims credit for solar leasing bill

That antique 1973 law may finally change to greatly facilitate solar financing through power purchase agreements (PPAs), now that Georgia Power has finally realized the good PR it’s getting for its own solar power deployments.

Walter C. Jones,, 13 January 2015, Solar access for residences, churches, small businesses could become easier under agreement,

ATLANTA | Homeowners, churches and small businesses would soon have access to the financing available in two-dozen states for the installation of solar panels with little upfront costs based on an agreement announced Tuesday during a legislative hearing.

Coming up with $18,000 or more in cash to install photovoltaic panels on the average home is difficult for most homeowners. But if the agreement becomes law, they could lease their roof to companies that pay them back with free electricity, selling the rest to the utilities.

Or cities or counties. Valdosta or Lowndes County, for instance, might save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on utility bills if they could finance solar power through PPAs.

Georgia has the fastest-growing solar employment, due largely to Georgia Power’s Advanced Solar Initiative that contracts with commercial power providers, according to the broker of the agreement Rep. Mike Dudgeon, R-Johns Creek.

“At the residential and small-business level, we’re falling behind,” he said.

Here’s the key part:

The utilities have discouraged the legislature from considering changes to the law, partly because they didn’t trust each other not to use it as an excuse to finagle a competitive advantage in the 40-year-old Territorial Services Act that divvies up the state between them. They also raised concerns that the sensitive operations of the electric grid could be upset by poorly installed solar systems feeding power into it.

“Georgia Power is supportive of solar development in this state, and we have always said that we support it as long as non-solar customers are not burdened nor that it negatively impacted the reliability of the electric grid,” said company lobbyist John D’Andrea. “

Heather Teilhet, vice president of government relations for Georgia’s 41 electric-membership cooperatives, acknowledged that Dudgeon worked hard to broker the deal.

“Since our first meeting, Rep. Dudgeon has been open and thoughtful about changes to his bill. He has shown great leadership facilitating this negotiation between our industries,” she said. “Furthermore, the EMCs, Oglethorpe Power, Georgia Power, MEAG, the Electric Cities, and the solar industry have negotiated fairly, openly and in good faith.”

Sounds like as long as the legislature recognizes Georgia Power is still in charge, that antique law can finally change. We shall see when we see the bill and the vote. I bet it will look very similar to previous solar bills. But if this time it has Georgia Power’s imprimatur, it will pass.

And that approval by the state’s biggest power company never would have happened if not for statewide activism by solar proponents.


PS: Thanks to Tim Carroll for the tip.