If a newly proposed utility gets its way the state could have a new, 90 megawatt, purely solar-powered utility. That is, if Georgia Solar Utilities, Inc., can get approval from the state’s Public Service Commission’s Energy Committee.
“It’s going before the commission but it’s by no means a done deal,” said Georgia Solar Energy Association (GSEA) Executive Director Jessica Moore. “Their proposal was to be set up as a new utility,” she said.
However, that means they would have to become a competitor to Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Co. The company is the state’s largest utility and operates under a nearly 40-year-old law granting it exclusive rights to continue serving existing customers, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. It also owns the transmission lines in the state, meaning that any power produced by the Georgia Solar Utilities system would have to be transmitted on Georgia Power’s transmission lines.
Still, at this point, Georgia Power has not come out against the proposal, according to Moore. “Our perspective is that any additional solar deployed in ths state is going to be good for solar,” she said.
The project also asks a lot of the utility. “If they undertake the project they would sell the power generated, not directly to customers, they would sell power generated to Georgia Power,” Moore said. “They would also be asking the public service commission to require Georgia Power to let them use the grid and require Georgia Power to buy the electricity they generated,” she said.
The 90 megawatts being proposed is larger than Georgia Power’s current 50 megawatt solar program. “Currently the largest solar farm is going to be the Simon Solar Farm. That’s going to be 30 megawatts but they haven’t broken ground on it yet,” Moore said.
The 90 megawatts proposed by the utility hopeful is projected to cost about $320 million. The project is proposed for 2,200 acres in Baldwin County near Georgia Power’s coal-fired Plant Branch, according to GSEA. During construction it would create hundreds of jobs, the organization said.