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
What if the Industrial Authority used its bond-issuing power
to finance rooftop solar?
And what if it combined that with utility-scale solar projects
on its own industrial park lands, and for example at the airport,
or at the new Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant?
It is not just the technology that is evolving in the solar
industry; the financing of solar projects, both residential and
utility-scale is evolving quickly. The most notable development here
has been in the form of solar leasing, whereby the rooftop panels
are owned by a third party who effectively leases the rooftop from
the home/factory/office owner, the latter receiving payment normally
through a reduction in electricity bills paid for by the lessee.
This provides the benefits of cheaper and cleaner solar electricity
to the homeowner, whilst negating the need for the significant
initial capital outlay. The panel owner or lessee earns their return
via incentive mechanisms such as the U.S. Investment Tax Credit, and
via the sale of the electricity back to the local utility. This
financing mechanism has proved particularly successful in the U.S.
and is gaining traction in the UK, with companies in other countries
looking to follow suit.
SO CEO Tom Fanning continued to blame slow sales and earnings on mild
weather (air conditioners running less), but the big boondoggle
going bad is Kemper Coal, which has slipped six months from May 2014 to Q4 2014,
and even the Wall Street Journal calls it “possibly the most expensive fossil-fuel power plant ever built in the U.S”.
How bad will SO’s stock tank when SO’s even more expensive
nuclear Plant Vogtle slips even more?
Dividends can’t prop up SO’s share price forever, not when PSCs are revolting against the rate hikes
and guaranteed profit hikes that prop up those dividends.
When will Southern Company and Georgia Power get out front and lead in solar and wind power?
Before or after the public, state public service commissions, and investors make them do it?
People are tired of
irresponsible trash government at the state level
colluding with monopoly utilities to hold Georgia back in distributed
solar power, and some of us are doing something about it;
you can, too.
I am seeing Georgia’s nuclear financial woes starting to prompt a
boon for distributed energy including solar, wind, biomass,
geothermal, low-impact hydro, high efficiency cogeneration, and
other sources of electricity.
A proposal from a start-up business promises to lower electricity
rates by rebating profits to customers if given a chance to compete
as Georgia Power Co.’s “mirror image.”
To proceed with its long-range plan of developing 2 gigawatts of
solar power, the start-up, Georgia Solar Utilities Inc., wants to
start by building an 80-megawatt “solar farm” near
Milledgeville as soon as it gets a green light from the Georgia
Public Service Commission. GaSU filed its request last week, and as
of Monday, it’s still too fresh for public evaluation.
So radical is the proposal that spokespersons for Georgia Power and
the Georgia Solar Energy Association said they still were evaluating
it and could not comment.
Groups that normally advocate for customers also are staying quiet.
GaSU executives recognize such a big change won’t come easily.
A captive Public Service Commission that
rubber-stamps costs for Plant Vogtle.
In case there was any doubt as to the PSC’s role in legitimizing those new nukes,
the very next day Fitch reaffirmed Southern Company’s bond ratings.
Southern Company’s regulated utility subsidiaries derive predictable
cash flows from low-risk utility businesses, enjoy relatively
favorable regulatory framework in their service territories, and
exhibit limited commodity price risks due to the ability to recover
fuel and purchased power through separate cost trackers.