Georgia Power plans to triple solar power use

Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012 5:35 PM
Last updated 7:54 PM
  • Follow Business

ATLANTA — Georgia Power filed Wednesday seeking permission from state regulators to more than triple the amount of solar power it uses to generate electricity for its 2.4 million customers by swapping it for what was already planned from other renewable sources.

The giant utility’s request to buy 210 megawatts of electricity was applauded by solar advocates.

The solar capacity will serve roughly 26,000 homes – less than one-tenth of what the two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle will produce.

The company is hailing its plan as a major achievement.

“Overall we’re excited about this new program because it will make Georgia a national leader among states where there is no solar mandate,” said Mike Hazelton, Georgia Power’s vice president of marketing.

Other states that have mandated a set percentage of energy that must come from solar sources have had to boost the rates customers pay to do it, he said. The Georgia Power plan won’t affect rates because it is based on paying the solar providers what it would have paid the biomass provider, 13 cents per kilowatt hour, which is already figured into customer’s rates.

Because the Public Service Commission has already given it the OK for the 210 megawatts in added capacity and set customer rates, Georgia Power officials hope for a quick approval.

“This is a good first step toward increasing Georgia’s solar infrastructure,” said Jessica Moore, the executive director of the Georgia Solar Energy Association.

Georgia Power’s plan is to buy no more than 20 megawatts from any one supplier and to purchase 10 megawatts of so-called distributed power in new contracts each of the next three years from homeowners or property owners looking to make a little money from their roof space.

“The program announced today offers a very limited program for homeowners and business owners to install solar on their own roofs,” said Rhone Resch, the president and CEO of the national Solar Energy Industries Association. “Distributed solar must be allowed to grow at a rate higher than 10 megawatts per year in order to create a truly sustainable market and jobs across the state.”

The solar association has lobbied for a different arrangement that would allow property owners to rent their roofs to solar companies, which would sell the power back to them and then market any extra to Georgia Power or neighboring homes. Georgia Power opposes changing the law to allow that.

Greg Roberts, the utility’s vice president of pricing and planning, said a 20-year contract to buy the electricity is something a property owner can take to a bank for the loan needed to install the rooftop panels.

“If they’ve got a basically guaranteed stream of payments from a very creditworthy customer, Georgia Power, we think that will get them a long way toward getting financing,” he said.

Last week, a start-up solar company filed papers with the PSC to become a utility and compete with Georgia Power to sell to retail customers statewide. It wants to build about 10 times as much solar capacity as Georgia Power proposed Wednesday.

Comments (4) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
bentman 09/26/12 - 05:51 pm
What a waste.

What a waste.

Insider Information
Insider Information 09/26/12 - 06:03 pm
And now Georgia Power buys

And now Georgia Power buys into the Great Green Myth.

omnomnom 09/26/12 - 06:33 pm
omg a conservative for solar power

omg a conservative for solar power

check out the guest column by a member of Georgia's PSC

madgerman 09/26/12 - 06:35 pm
And what was the other

And what was the other renewable energy sources they swapped for??? And why is GP afraid of apparent competition? Sounds like our elected folks on the commission in Atlanta went to a few too many funded lunches.

Techfan 09/27/12 - 04:09 am
"In discussing this

"In discussing this initiative, I laid out a three parameters: it shouldn’t cause higher rates; it must be a good strategic fit; and bids to provide utility scale solar power should be subject to a competitive bidding process to ensure the best value to ratepayers."

The first parameter should have been applied to Plant Vogtle as well. We're paying for it now, and if the 2 new reactors follow the timeline of the first 2 (16 years to build and 1,243% over budget, and they're already almost 1 billion over budget now) a few million of the folks paying for it now will have passed on without seeing a single watt of electricity, while those still around will be paying around an extra $1,500 or so a year when it comes on line. Just remember, they keep telling us that nuclear power is almost free. Just don't hold your breath waiting for that free part to kick in.

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs