Georgia Power has filed a new solar initiative with the Georgia Public Service Commission. If approved, the initiative would create the largest voluntarily developed solar portfolio from an investor-owned utility. The company would acquire 210 MW of additional solar capacity over a three-year period.
“We believe the Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative will encourage new opportunities for solar development in our state and catapult us to the forefront of this clean, safe energy technology,” said Paul Bowers, Georgia Power president and CEO, in a release.
Since the creation of the company’s Green Energy Program in 2003, it has worked to add 61.5 MW of solar to its portfolio – enough green energy to power approximately 7,600 homes.
To meet the target of 210 new megawatts, Georgia Power’s Utility Scale program would purchase 60 MW annually for three years through a competitive request for proposal program with projects ranging in size from 1 to 20 MW. By as early as 2013, a Distributed Scale program would provide opportunities for up to 10 megawatts per year of smaller solar projects, according to the release.
The proposal comes a week after a new company, Georgia Solar Utilities, proposed to compete against Georgia Power and generate 2 GW of solar power in the state. The likelihood of that, however, is minimal, according to the Savannah Morning News.
Current law gives customer preference to existing utilities in the state. Georgia Solar Utilities would need to change that law to get started, according to Atlanta Business Journal.
The Solar Energy Industries Association says the proposal is a start. SEIA‘s reaction, in its entirety, is below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 26, 2012
SEIA Statement on Proposed Georgia Power Solar Energy Initiative
New initiative is one step of many needed to build a sustainable solar market in Georgia
WASHINGTON, DC – Georgia Power Company today proposed an initiative to create one of the largest voluntarily-developed solar portfolios by an investor-owned utility in the U.S. The Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative (GPASI) would add 210 megawatts (MW) of additional solar capacity to Georgia Power’s portfolio through 2015. The completed 210 MW of solar electric capacity would be enough to power nearly 20,000 average Georgia households.
To meet the 210 MW target, Georgia Power would purchase 60 MW annually for three years with projects ranging in size from one to 20 megawatts, which applies to very large commercial or utility-scale projects. The other 10 MW would be met through a distributed-scale program for residential and commercial projects.
Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, issued the following statement in response to the announcement:
“We are encouraged by the news that Georgia Power has taken a first step towards realizing Georgia’s vast potential for solar energy that to date has gone largely untapped. Georgia Power’s initiative demonstrates that solar is a trusted and reliable energy source and has an important role in achieving fuel source diversity.
“However, more needs to be done for Georgia to become a true leader in solar and to build a sustainable solar market in the state. Important policy decisions lie ahead. It’s vital that the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) allow both centralized and distributed solar generation to fulfill a larger role in the state’s energy mix. The program announced today offers a very limited program for homeowners and business owners to install solar on their own roofs. Distributed solar must be allowed to grow at a rate higher than 10MW per year in order to create a truly sustainable market and jobs across the state. In addition, the state needs competitive rules and standards for connecting to the grid as well as policies to allow for other solar providers to participate in the market.
“SEIA is confident that solar has valuable benefits to offer Georgia’s businesses and families. Today more than 100,000 Americans work at 5,600 solar energy companies across the nation in all 50 states, and the industry is growing rapidly. We look forward to working in concert with the PSC, Georgia Power, our state chapter Georgia-SEIA, and other stakeholders to help Georgia become an important player in the national solar success story.”
The solar industry more than doubled the amount of solar installed in the U.S. in the second quarter of this year compared to 2011, and growth is expected to continue in the second half of 2012. The top 10 states for total solar electric capacity are (in descending order): California, New Jersey, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York and North Carolina. Georgia is not ranked in the top 25 states in terms of installed capacity in the latest Solar Market Insight report.