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Clean Power Georgia, solar, solar power, PPAs, Georgia Power, Green Tea Coalition, tea party, Sierra Club

Published on April 1st, 2015 | by Leon Kaye


Georgia Legislature Passes Landmark Solar Bill

April 1st, 2015 by  

Solar power never faced an outright ban in Georgia, but for consumers, the upfront costs made solar power installations unaffordable. Residents have been prohibited from signing contracts such as power purchase agreements (PPAs), which allow solar installers to cover those costs in return for selling electricity back to a local utility. Despite such roadblocks, Georgia ranks 15th in solar power capacity, but it could inch up thanks to legislation passed in the state’s legislature. House Bill 57 is a game changer, and in the long run, we could see Georgia home to a thriving solar industry on the scale of a nearby southern state, North Carolina.

Georgia, solar, solar power, PPAs, Georgia Power, Green Tea Coalition, tea party, Sierra Club

Last Friday, the bill passed the Georgia Senate unanimously after it sailed through the House in February with zero nay votes. Homeowners can now sign agreements with solar power companies that allow them to sell electricity generated from the sun back to the local grid, in turn allowing them to pay off their installations over the course of as many as 20 years. The legislation did set a limit of how much electricity a residential solar installation owned by a third party can generate: 10 kilowatts. The cap was inserted into the legislation at the request of local utilities including Georgia Power, which had long claimed unrestricted solar could drive up electricity rates for the state’s residents.

Part of the change in Georgia is based in the joint efforts of the state’s Tea Party and the Sierra Club. The Green Tea Coalition, for example, has worked across the political spectrum to expand choice for consumers who were tired of the way monopolies, as in Georgia’s utilities, limited choices on how Georgians could power their homes. This awkward alliance resulted in the passage of a law two years ago that required Georgia Power to purchase 525 megawatts of solar power by 2016: and 20% of that must come from residential and commercial installations instead of large solar farms. As a result, the strict regulations on rooftop solar in Georgia were untenable.

Governor Nathan Dean, a Republican, is expected to sign this legislation soon. Watch for Georgia to soon crack the top 10 solar power generating states.

Image Credit: Ken Lund

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About the Author

is based in Fresno, California. He has written for Guardian Sustainable Business, Triple Pundit, Sustainable Brands, Earth 911, and Inhabitat. He also writes about his thoughts on sustainability on his own site, greengopost.com.

  • Hans

    These kind of laws are band-aid solutions. Power generation and transmission should not be owned by the same people. Grids are a true utility that should be in public hands or strictly controlled. Let a thousand flowers blossom on the generation side by opening it up for the free market.

  • spec9

    That Green Tea Party lady deserves a lot of credit here. I’m into the Tea Party but it is great when very different groups can work together on important issue like this.

  • Brian

    We need a nationwide law that prevents electric utilities from blocking people from having solar power. Until we pass laws that criminalize the monopoly these blood sucking greedy electric utilities have on us, solar will not be able to really take off.

    • Offgridman

      Fortunately the reducing costs of solar installation to where it meets or beats utility retail prices is causing it to take off.
      However we shouldn’t believe the utilities fake concerns about rates increasing, they are just concerned with protecting their profit margins. If people are going to buy their electricity from CO2 spewing fossil fuel plants or long term waste causing nuclear plants let them pay for the real costs of this generation. That will make the adoption of residential solar, community farms, and wind farms really take off.

    • Bowd

      I think these problems will solve themselves without a Federal Law. (Isn’t this a state issue anyway? We want less gov’t regulation not more!) Constituents are crying bloody murder and politicians are listening! Price parity (with net-metering) has only been reached recently. I expect big improvement by 2016.

      • There is no way utility companies are going to give up their monopolies without a fight. Absent government regulation half this country would still be without power today. The TVA would never have been built without government regulation.

        The invisible hand of the market place spends most of its time picking people’s pocket.

    • Michael G

      At one time I would have agreed with you but now I think the 50 little laboratories for government serve better to try out different approaches to the same problem. Eventually, we will see all the states coalesce on the optimal solutions. In resistant states citizens will look at what other states have and demand the same. Each state is different, Minnesota and Florida may need different solutions to their energy problems.

      • spec9

        Having a variety of incentive programs is nice. But the few remaining states that have completely barred net-metering need to stop that ASAP. Climate change policy should over-ride that monopolist greed.

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