Georgia Votes For 525 MW Of New Solar Projects

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This article was first published on Solar Love (“Georgia Solar Gets Tea Party Boost — 525 MW Approved!“).

The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved a new program under which the local energy generator and distributor Georgia Power would be required to construct 525 MW of solar power plants by 2016.

This was proposed by Lauren McDonald and was passed with a vote of 3-2. Incidentally, a lot of support came from the local Tea Party.

georgia solar panels
Georgia solar panels.
Photo Credit: faul / CC BY

In early June, Climate Progress provided some background on this Tea Party push:

The fight to bring cheaper, clean energy to Georgia is uniting some unlikely allies. Renewable energy advocates and leaders of the Atlanta Tea Party are taking on utility giant Southern Co., and its subsidiary Georgia Power, over resisting the call to expand its development of solar energy.

As Debbie Dooley, co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party explained in an interview with Climate Progress, the group’s interest in the debate is quite simple: “The free market has been one of the founding principles of the Tea Party since it began and a monopoly is not a free market.”

In Georgia — as in many states — utilities are granted a monopoly over the ability to sell power, which means that customers have no choice in where they get their electricity. A major provision of the monopoly is that Georgia Power act in the best interest of ratepayers, regulated by the Public Service Commission.

Dooley said the Tea Party believes consumers should be able to exercise choice when it comes to their energy source and the activists she works with don’t want to be dependent on one or two energy sources. And Dooley’s effort is not aimed at reducing carbon emissions — in fact, she doesn’t believe in global warming — but based on their view that solar is a commonsense alternative for Georgia ratepayers that could function without subsidies.

For more background, read the full Climate Progress article.

Forbes, following the 525 GW of solar approval, adds:

The ruling is the latest event in what has been a loud, two-year fight. But what makes Georgia’s solar fight different is that solar advocates aren’t just selling solar as a way to reduce emissions or reduce fossil fuels. Solar has been positioned as a property rights issue pitting private citizens against utilities, regulators and fixed rates of return.

“Are New York bondholders more important than Georgia ratepayers?” Jason Rooks, a lobbyist for the Georgia Solar Energy Association, asks rhetorically. “This is about free market. This is about property rights. It is about technology and innovation.”

If the strategy continues to work, it could become a template for the advocates in rest of the country. Call it the “the enemy of my enemy is my utility” battle plan.

Following that, Forbes also has more context that is quite interesting and worth a read.

Solar Love founder and CleanTechnica director Zachary Shahan was also recently contacted (in mid-June) by an insider working with conservative politicians in Georgia who were pushing for this Georgia solar power boost. It was conveyed to him that it was hoped this effort would bring more Tea Party and Republican leaders over to the solar energy camp. Clearly, their voters support solar energy development, more than any other energy source, as poll after poll shows.

Is the Tea Party about to adopt more solar power production as one of its goals? Is the solar rooftop revolution about to get a big boost that unites conservative activists and liberal activists? Do you think it is time for governments to reduce individuals’ income tax rates in exchange for increases of gas and coal taxes? A lot of interesting questions come out of this.

Sound off in the comment section.

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Nicholas Brown

Has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is:

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7 thoughts on “Georgia Votes For 525 MW Of New Solar Projects

  • Solar just works. It creates jobs, creates energy that can’t be exported, and can be located anywhere.

  • This is indeed an interesting development. And 525 MW is not shabby.

  • Great News. If every state has some initiatives like this, it will give a big boost to Solar Power.

    They should also start using Solar Water Heater which can be used for space heating as well.

  • Will this is good new. Georgia also let Vogtle 3&4 start collect money during construction. And promised that they could charge whatever it takes to make a profit. Together these are about 2.3GW so got a long way to go in solar before they even come close.

    • It’s a strategy that was cooked up by the nuclear industry a few years back.

      1) Get permission to raise the cost of electricity well before starting to build a new reactor. Use the extra money (seized from customers) to help pay for construction. This is not only free money to the reactor owner, it also lowers the amount of money that has to be borrowed.

      2) Raising the cost of electricity long before the reactor comes on line means that the necessary price increase after the reactor comes on line will be a smaller increase. Part of the caused price increase would have happened years earlier. A nickle now and a nickle later is less noticeable than a dime all at once.

      Georgia customers didn’t wise up to this until it was too late and their utility company had stuck it to them. Florida citizens smelled the rat and stopped it.

      If the Vogtle reactors come on line the owners get free money to help them pay for their new generation.

      If the Vogtle reactors aren’t finished (as many reactors aren’t) taxpayers have to pay off the loans.

      You’ve got to admire nuclear’s glow-in-the-dark cojones.

      • Yea, I get all the profits, you take all the risks. Sweeeeeet.

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