The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) has been promoting and tracking clean energy in the US Southeast for many years. It now puts out an annual Solar in the Southeast report. Along with state comparisons on megawatts of solar installed, policy, and other matters, SACE actually calculates and shares installed solar capacity per customer for states and utilities.
This year, some of the key findings regarding 2019 included:
- Tampa Electric had the highest growth in solar watts per customer (173%) among major utilities (500,000+ customers), rising to 428 watts per customer. With 600 megawatts (MW) to be added by 2023, SACE expects that to rise to 1,827 watts per customer, which would move Tampa Electric from #5 in this ranking to #2, only trailing Duke Energy’s expected 2,718 solar watts per customer.
- Florida as a whole won’t do as well but it is expected to climb up the rankings in a similar way, going from #6 at 220 solar watts per customers in 2019 to #4 at 826 solar watts per customer in 2023, a nearly 4× increase.
- In terms of total solar power capacity, Florida is expected to become #1 in the Southeast in 2021.
- Among major utilities, Duke Energy Progress was #1 for the third year in a row in terms of solar watts per customers, with more than double #2 Dominion Energy SC. That said, before this year, Duke Energy had more than half of the installed solar in the Southeast, and that changed in 2019 as other utilities gained on it.
- “Florida Power & Light (FPL) received approval for its innovative SolarTogether program (1,490 MW) that will double the amount of community solar in the United States.”
- “The Georgia PSC more than doubled the amount of solar proposed in the Georgia Power IRP – to 2,210 MW. That is the main driver of the Southern Company trajectory after 2021. Mississippi Power has a similar opportunity with an upcoming IRP and Alabama Power has had 500 MW of solar approved since 2015 but has, thus far, only developed 100 MW (for the U.S. Army and Walmart).”
- Looking beyond the major utilities, some smaller utilities (100,000–500,000 customers) also saw strong growth in solar watts per customer. In fact, Walton EMC had the most solar capacity added per customer among all utilities, being the #1 “SunRiser.” It is expected to have the most solar power capacity per customer by 2023, if not sooner, followed by #2 SolarRiser Gulf Power. Walton EMC’s solar growth is fueled by Facebook, as it is building 232 MW of solar projects for the social media giant.
- The Southeast reached more than 10,000 MW of installed solar capacity by the end of 2019, and SACE now expects that to more than double by 2022. SACE expects nearly 25,000 MW of solar by 2023, and that solar will reach 10% of all installed power capacity in the region and 5% of retail electricity generation.
Overall, there’s a lot of variation in the Southeast in terms of solar policy — with regard to legislation, regulations, and utility policy. “These either spur or stifle solar growth. Favorable examples include the Energy Freedom Act in South Carolina, Public Service Commission (PSC) decisions in Georgia, and utility innovation in Florida. Adverse policies continue to emerge from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), like sunsetting the once exemplary Green Power Provider program.”
Utilities in the dog house, “SunBlockers,” according to this new report are Seminole Electric, North Carolina Electric Cooperatives, and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).
“Policies matter. Enabling legislation in North and South Carolina continues to propel the top three: Duke Energy Progress (DEP), DESC and Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC). Early regulatory leadership by the Georgia PSC established a successful market for solar in the Peach State and continues to sustain that momentum for Georgia Power with another 2,210 MW of solar in its current Integrated Resources Plan (IRP).
“Tampa Electric continues fulfillment of a prior, voluntary 600 MW solar commitment. Progress to-date places that utility above the region average of 325 MW. Additionally, it has recently announced a further expansion (another 600 MW by 2023) which earns it the number two slot on our 2023 forecast, as well as a third consecutive year on our SunRiser list.”
The bulk of solar power capacity in the Southeast comes in the form of utility-scale solar power, an issue we’ve addressed in depth in the past here on CleanTechnica and will soon publish about in a solar report.
For more, including detailed one-pagers on each state, check out the full report. It’s free!
You can also watch a webinar for the report here:
All images courtesy SACE.