Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Co. (NYSE: SO), said it has reached agreements to sell a megawatt of solar generation to Dalton Utilities under a wholesale agreement, a first for the company. The power company also recently agreed to buy the solar farm, which is currently in development, from United Renewable Energy and Mack Creek Energy the projects’ developers.
The project will be developed in 3, 350-kilowatt stages, with the first stage coming online in 2011. The last stage is slated for completion in 2014.
Georgia Power is building its renewable portfolio for two main reasons, customer demand and anticipation of a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in Georgia. “We don’t have an RPS yet,” said Georgia Power spokesperson Lynn Wallace. “What we’re doing is we’re anticipating that there could be an RPS down the road. We’re trying to get more renewables into our portfolio for that reason. And the public wants solar. More and more people want solar.”
United Renewable and Mack formed a company, Dalton Solar Energy, to sell the plant’s power to Dalton Utilities. But they ultimately decided to sell the project to Georgia Power.
“We are a larger company. We purchased the facility from them. We’ll own it, operate it and sell the output to Dalton Utilities,” Wallace said. Basically, Georgia Power is assuming control of the power-purchase agreement Dalton Utilities signed with Dalton Solar.
Wallace said Georgia Power saw it as an opportunity to further its relationship with Dalton Utilities, a partner in Georgia Power’s development of two new nuclear reactors. The reactors are in the final permitting stages and will be built at the existing Plant Vogtle site which already has two nuclear reactors.
According to Wallace, the new facilities will have a cumulative generating capacity of 2,200 megawatts—significantly dwarfing the new solar facility.
Solar remains a small percentage of Georgia Power’s overall generation capacity.
“It is growing but not at the same rate as nuclear and natural gas,” said Wallace. “That’s mainly because of the cost. It hasn’t reached grid parity.
“We probably have less than a percent of renewables [excluding 2 percent of hydroelectric]. Most of the renewables we currently have are from biomass,” Wallace continued.
The company, according to Wallace, will eventually have about 6.4 megawatts of solar capacity available to customers that want to buy solar power.
Image courtesy of United Renewable Energy of the Dalton Solar Energy warehouse installation.