A new solar energy bill in the US state of Georgia has been submitted, “Rural Georgia Economic Recovery and Solar Resource Act of 2014.” This bill would create a new model for generation and distribution of electricity, allowing the Public Service Commission to authorize and establish a rural community solar initiative and oversee and manage the expansion of solar energy in the state.
One of the key backers of the bill is Georgia Solar Utilities, who, like other third-party companies, will be able to submit proposals to the Public Service Commission for financing and aggregating solar.
Individual customers who own solar generating assets will be able to offset a portion of their electricity bills by receiving a pro-rata share of what they have sold back to the grid. This will also be available to renters and other customers who are as yet unable to install their own solar systems, for one reason or another.
The new bill could open the solar energy market for Georgia. It will help clear some of the roadblocks like interconnection and grid access for generating assets, and it should also drive down the soft costs associated with construction and installation by creating market incentives from competitive bidding. Both homes with solar and solar farms will be covered under the statue.
Greentech Media quoted the CEO of Georgia Solar Utilities as saying:
“The world has changed for the economics of solar in Georgia, but we’re stuck with 40-year-old laws that block us from taking advantage of it,” said Robert Green, CEO of Georgia Solar Utilities.
“So we’re offering a conservative, no-brainer proposition: let a private company bear all the downside risk for investing in solar with no upward pressure on utility rates, and let ratepayers reap the upside of future cost savings as solar prices fall.”
The bill also includes a regulatory liability reserve for cost recovery and rate reduction to assist the grid operator. The third parties will pay a liability fee that will be used to offset any unforeseen rate impacts from their solar projects. Such as, wear-and-tear on distribution lines or any cost shifting between non-solar user and solar users.
Any remaining money is reimbursed to solar subscribers as a rate-reduction dividend.
If passed this bill could serve as a model for deploying solar energy in other regulated states. Georgia’s solar potential has been rated as one of the top ten best states, but its current capacity is nowhere near that. Hopefully, this will be the game changer for Georgia.