During a time when so many utilities seem to be battling solar energy initiatives, three utility companies have committed to adding 1 gigawatt of new solar energy capacity, according to a release from nonprofit The Clean Coalition.
While not all three of the utilities The Clean Coalition recognizes committed to additional solar installations eagerly, they are all committed one way or another.
The Georgia Public Service Commission voted last week to require Georgia Power to add 525 megawatts to its 210-megawatt Advanced Solar Initiative for a total of 735 megawatts of solar in the utility company’s 20-year plan. Of that, 190 megawatts will be distributed generation.
Commissioner Bubba McDonald made the motion to require the increased commitment to solar from Georgia Power because the success of the solar initiative suggested there was pent-up demand for solar in the state, according to an earlier press release from the Georgia Solar Energy Association.
“Commissioner McDonald's motion adding 525 MW of solar to our 20-year energy plan is a hedge against more coal regulation and natural gas price volatility,” commissioner Tim Echols said in a statement.
While Georgia Power was obliged by its governing body to increase its solar portfolio, Long Island Power Authority in New York announced that it is voluntarily expanding its solar initiative from 50 megawatts to 150 megawatts and offering a 7-cent per kilowatt hour incentive to anyone installing distributed solar photovoltaic generation in critical areas that could prevent the utility company from having to make transmission investments.
"LIPA’s detailed assessment that distributed generation can provide at least 7 cents per kilowatt-hour of incremental value by avoiding additional costs associated with transmission-dependent generation provides an important lesson for the rest of the country,” Craig Lewis, executive director of the Clean Coalition said in a statement. “The locational value of wholesale distributed generation is substantial and the compensation of such will ensure that energy generation is deployed where it is needed most – and in a timely fashion.”
On a smaller scale, Fort Collins Utility, the municipal utility in the northern Colorado city, unveiled its Solar Power Purchase Program recently. That pilot program is designed to help the city install 5 megawatts of distributed solar generation by 2015 – less than two years.
These three advances in utilities committing to distributed solar are promising, according to the release from The Clean Coalition.