Today (Nov. 20) the Georgia Public Service Commission approved Georgia Power Co.’s plan to add 210 megawatts of solar to its generation portfolio. Under the program, known as Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative (GPASI), Georgia Power will add 90 megawatts of solar each year from 2013 to 2015. One of the interesting things about the program is that it’s an entirely voluntary program, showing that the company thinks it can develop the projects cost-effectively. It also shows that there’s a strong case for solar in the Southeast as well as the Southwest U.S.
The company also is going for a highly distributed approach, and will accept up to 45 megawatts of contracts from small (less than 100 kilowatts) and medium (100 kWs to 1 megawatt) annually, possibly starting in 2013. It will also purchase 60 megawatts annually for two years through a competitive request for proposal program for larger projects form to 20 megawatts.
The approval and high use of distributed generation was lauded by local and national solar groups. “We applaud the Georgia Public Service Commission for approving this plan by Georgia Power to help grow Georgia’s burgeoning solar energy market,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “Approval of the GPASI is a great first step towards Georgia meeting its full solar potential. We’re especially encouraged that the PSC and Georgia Power chose to add more distributed generation into this plan than what was originally proposed. This key addition will allow more families and businesses to go solar, while creating jobs throughout the state.”
“The Georgia Solar Energy Association is thrilled to see the Public Service Commission not only authorizing a significant short-term deployment of solar energy through its current regulatory structure, but also encouraging legislative leaders to reconsider the current policy restrictions that have prevented the state from achieving its enormous potential for solar energy production,” said Jessica Moore, the organization’s executive director. And Peter Corbett, President of Georgia SEIA said, “Georgia SEIA is grateful for the efforts by the Georgia PSC and their staff to make the GPASI a reality. We are very pleased about the amount of distributed generation the PSC has included, which will make great strides in both expanding solar where it’s needed most and helping it to become a key component of the energy mix for the rate base.”
The plan should lead to a large increase both in solar deployment and jobs in the state. The company also is launching a new "solar energy expert" initiative to help residents learn more about the opportunity.