The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) recently voted to approve a solar resource plan, which should increase Georgia Power’s solar energy procurement by 6 to 9 gigawatts through 2035 and add 500 megawatts of battery storage to the energy grid. This is a win for Georgia consumers and the clean energy economy. Energy storage, when combined with solar power, can consistently keep the lights on even during severe weather and peaks in electricity demand.
Along with the expansion of solar and storage, the PSC unanimously decided to form a cooperative Distributed Generation Working Group. The committee, which will be made up of PSC officials, solar sector representatives, and utility representatives, will generate suggestions for expanding Georgia’s distributed energy market.
According to Tully Blalock, Senior Vice President of SolAmerica Energy and Policy Co-Chair of the Georgia Solar Industries Association, it is tremendously encouraging to see the Commission prioritize the expansion of distributed renewable energy through the creation of a working group (SEIA). The way forward for Georgia’s economy, workforce, and public health is undoubtedly distributed generation. We were pleased to see the commission acknowledge distributed generation’s critical role in such a concrete way.
A vote to increase Georgia Power’s well-liked monthly netting program by as much as 15% was also up for vote before the PSC today, making rooftop solar accessible to 75,000 Georgian homes. The proposal was made by Tim Echols, vice chair of the commission, who has long advocated for expanding net metering. It was defeated by a vote of 32.
Customers of rooftop solar systems are adequately compensated under the initiative, which was launched as a test in 2020, for any surplus electricity generated by their solar panels. When thousands of Georgians signed up for the program to take advantage of low-cost rooftop solar, its popularity and success became immediately clear. Advocates started pleading with the PSC to raise the quota and increase access to solar energy across the state once the pilot hit its 5,000 customer target in the middle of 2021.
According to Allison Kvien, Southeast Regulatory Director at Vote Solar, “We applaud some of the Commission’s decisions today and are optimistic that the Commission will address net metering in the upcoming Georgia Power rate case to bring affordable rooftop solar within reach for tens of thousands of Georgia families.” Through rooftop solar, monthly netting enables families to reduce their monthly expenses and support a cleaner, more dependable electricity system. We appreciate Vice Chair Echols’ and Commissioner McDonald’s leadership on this crucial matter, and we will keep working to make solar energy accessible and affordable for all Georgians.
The manpower and economic advantages of a growing solar business have already been felt in Georgia, which is seventh in the nation for solar installations. There are almost 200 solar companies and supports approximately 4,500 jobs in the state. Additionally, the solar sector has invested $4.9 billion in Georgia, and estimates indicate that over the next five years, the state can add nearly 2,000 megawatts of solar power.
According to Will Giese, Southeast Regional Director at the Solar Energy Industries Association, Georgia took important measures today to further the growth of renewable energy sources throughout the state (SEIA). Through the purchase of reliable, affordable sustainable energy, the solar and storage additions to Georgia Power’s integrated resource plan will assist in easing the squeeze of inflation on Georgia residents. Despite the Commission’s wasted opportunity to increase the scope of the state’s net metering pilot, the establishment of a distributed generating working group is positive. We will continue to promote policies that increase all Georgia ratepayers’ access to renewable energy in the face of rising energy costs.
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