GA Senate unanimously approved solar financing bill

Friday’s vote started at least a year and a half ago. Organized years-long activism is paying off for everyone.

Summer before last, after statewide requests by Georgia Sierra Club, Greenlaw, and many others: Georgia PSC required Georgia Power to buy twice as much solar power. About a year later, Mary Landers, Savannahnow, 18 November 2014, Georgia is fastest growing solar market,

Last year the Georgia Public Service Commission approved a motion for Georgia Power, the state’s largest utility, to add 525 MW of solar power generation to its portfolio by 2016.

“That pushed out the growth of solar, especially projecting forward,” [Tom] Swanson [manager of Pew’s Clean Energy initiative] said.

The PSC’s decision acted on solar much like a renewable energy portfolio — a requirement for utilities to obtain a set amount of energy from renewable sources. Pew recommends that Georgia adopt a renewable energy portfolio to bring in more diverse energy solutions.

“It can be a great economic opportunity for Georgia,” Swanson said. “If you can expand across more sectors instead of just what the PSC did with solar, it’s good for Georgia and for the country.”

That activism didn’t stop summer before last, either. GA Sierra Club also organized a series of town halls across the state opposing Georgia Power’s attempt to get GA PSC to impose ALEC’s solar connection fee like Dominion Power got in Virginia. By the time the GA PSC met, that fee wasn’t even proposed any more.

And now Georgia is finally taking advantage of Moore’s Law for solar power. As SEIA notes:

Installed solar photovoltaic system prices in the U.S. have dropped steadily — by 8% from last year and 49% from 2010.

And those price drops continue to more than double solar U.S. deployments every two years. And even faster in Georgia, where Georgia Power and its parent Southern Company are finally helping deploy numerous solar projects, even helping to pull the cork out of the genie’s bottle by changing that antique 1973 Territorial Electric Service Act that has impeded solar financing in Georgia.

Kristina Torres, AJC, 27 March 2015 Georgia solar bill headed to governor,

The Senate unanimously passed solar energy legislation Friday meant to ease the market for consumers, sending the measure to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature.

Called the Solar Power Free Market Financing Act, House Bill 57 is aimed at making it easier and more affordable for Georgia homeowners and small businesses to put solar panels on their rooftops.

The bill — sponsored by Republican state Rep. Mike Dudgeon of Johns Creek — clarifies how homeowners can get outside financing of small solar installations. Solar advocates say a key to winning over homeowners is to make it easier to finance installation and equipment, which can cost $15,000 or more. With financing, homeowners can avoid upfront costs and pay for their use of the system over time.

For years, solar legislation has failed to win House passage. But the latest bill eases earlier concerns that Georgia Power and other utilities have expressed about the safety of new installations, as well as their worries that the state would let in rival retail utilities. Those companies joined environmental groups and solar developers in supporting the legislation earlier this year.

Solar advocates said the legislation gives consumers, small businesses and schools more affordable ways to get solar energy from their rooftops. It would help property owners avoid steep upfront costs for solar panels by allowing them to enter into agreements for solar companies or local utilities to finance, own and maintain rooftop systems. Under a scenario popular in other states, consumers could essentially lease the systems, tapping into the energy for a monthly fee.

That history of activism actually goes back years earlier, including repeated appearances by many people at annual Southern Company stockholder meetings. As I said to the GA PSC summer before last, the cloudy day doesn’t last for an entire month.

GA PSC has an opportunity right now to help Georgia Power lead the state and the region and the country out of the coal-clouded past straight into that bright sunny future for ourselves and for those who come after us.

And because of all of you who helped, even the historically regulatorially-captured GA PSC did that. Turning Georgia in one year into the fastest-growing U.S. solar market. Now about to grow even faster when HB 57 becomes law. Shutting down even more coal plants, and focussing bright sunshine on the dirty pipeline snakes attempting to invade Georgia from the west (Spectra Energy and FPL’s Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline) and the east (Kinder Morgan’s Palmetto Project fracked oil products pipeline).

The sun is rising on Georgia. Not even the oily hand of the fossil fuel industry can stop it.


1 thought on “GA Senate unanimously approved solar financing bill

  1. Pingback: Historic solar financing bill started in GA PSC more than a year ago - WWALS Watershed Coalition

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