South Carolina’s largest solar farm generated 5% more power
in its first year (2014), and demonstrated that
tracking mounts provide more power in the late afternoon at peak
air conditioning use time.
It took only nine weeks to build, far faster than any pipeline or nuclear project, and you could build enough of these solar farms to produce more energy
in less time than it would take just to permit either of those, much less build them.
However, Santee Cooper could do better about enabling others to install and connect solar power.
Right now, Santee Cooper is making even Duke Energy look good.
Yes, it’s better than the unequal “net metering” Georgia has now,
where your one-and-only utility pays you a rate they determine,
typically their “avoided” rate of not generating energy by some
other means, which is usually a lot less than what you pay your utility.
Is it better than real one-to-one net metering?
That’s a harder question, because even if it pays more now, it’s
In any case VOST has spread
from Austin to Minnesota.
The same Edison Electric Institute that warned electric utilities
that distributed solar is already eating their lunch has codified
a net metering talking point that utilities are pushing to try
to shade solar power.
It’s not working.
“The success of solar power is forcing utilities to rethink their
business model and push for the changes,” said Franc Del Fosse, an
energy industry lawyer and partner at Snell & Wilmer. “If you have
an individual putting solar panels on the roof, it’s easy to suggest
that a utility is making less money.”
Regulatory battles over solar power payment models played out in
several states this year. And as the dust settles, solar providers
are claiming victory. Utilities, on the other hand, are trying to
reframe the conversation entirely by insisting they aren’t an enemy
Net metering actually shortchanges rooftop solar generators,
discovered Austin Energy by running the numbers.
And here in Georgia we can’t even get net metering:
maybe we should.
In Austin, Texas it’s called the
Value of Solar tariff,
and it’s an odd tariff that actually pays the solar generator.
To come up with a true value of solar to the utility, Austin Energy
formulated numerical values for all of the benefits yielded by each
kilowatt-hour of distributed generation. These included not only the
actual electricity produced but also the elimination of line losses
as well as costs the utility could avoid by not building, or even
delaying, construction on more generation. “If you put off a
billion-dollar decision for one year, that’s at five percent
interest,” said [Karl] Rabago. “It’s a big savings in cash each
Other states, even New Jersey and far-north Michigan,
are beating Georgia to solar jobs.
Why isn’t sunny Georgia leading in one of the fastest-growing industries in the country that is deploying rural jobs everywhere else?
holding a shareholder meeting this month?
There are now more solar energy workers in the state of Texas than
there are ranchers, according to solar research group The Solar
The group’s data mapping out solar jobs across the nation also
showed that there are more solar jobs in California than actors, and
more solar workers than coal miners nationwide. Sunny states like
California and Arizona topped the list. Wyoming came in last, with
just 50 workers, while Utah showed a mere 290 solar workers despite
being one of the country’s sunniest states.
Even the states with less sunshine like New Jersey and Michigan
showed a high number of solar jobs—thanks to favorable tax and
regulatory policies that help attract developers to cope with high
New Jersey is #9 and Michigan is #15 according to
The Solar Foundation’s map of State Solar Jobs.
Number 41 in solar jobs per capita.
Yet Michigan is #47 by maximum solar resource and New Jersey is #36,
while Georgia is #18: much sunnier than those northern states.
Why is Georgia so far behind?
LEGAL STATUS OF THIRD-PARTY OWNERSHIP: NOT ALLOWED
Net metering of solar energy works fine in California, where it
increasingly provides electricity to meet peak demand.
Georgia has a 2001 law that requires power utilities to do
a version of net metering, but it’s a weak version and there’s a low
cap on how much you can sell back to the utility.
Net metering is the process whereby an energy consumer produces energy
and then sells some or all of this energy to the “grid”,
energy producers in the state. Under Georgia’s net metering laws,
state residents and businesses can purchase and operate green energy
capital, including photovoltaics, wind energy and fuel cells, and use
this energy on-site. These residents and businesses may then sell any
un-used, additional energy produced on-site to their energy provider.
There is a maximum of 10 kilowatts (kW) for residential applications
and up to 100 kW for commercial applications.
As you can see by GEFA’s pie chart, solar energy was too small to chart
as a source of energy in Georgia as of 2004.
With solar, we can burn less coal and uranium.
Protecting Net energy metering (NEM) is the top policy priority of the
Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) for California in 2012. NEM
is a billing arrangement that allows utility customers to offset some or
all of their energy use (up to 1 MW) with selfgenerated renewable energy.
The definition sounds the same, except for the cap: 1 megawatt
is 1000 kilowatts, so California’s current cap is 100 times the Georgia
residential cap and 10 times the Georgia commercial cap, with
apparently no distinction between residential and commercial.
91% of voters support using solar power to meet our growing needs for energy and electricity
Solar is hands down the most popular energy source across NC,
across parties, ages, genders, etc.
Coal and nuclear are the politically charged energy sources,
and neither got a majority.
Number 2 was offshore wind with 83% and number 3 was onshore wind
with 82% support.
NCSEA press release.