Georgia PSC Agrees To More Solar Power

March 17, 2015, The Georgia Public Service Commission ordered another installment of solar power for the generation of 100 megawatts of solar energy offered by Atlanta-based Georgia Power Company as part of the utility’s Advanced Solar Initiative. The solar power authorized Tuesday is the final portion of a commitment of 525 megawatts of solar generating capacity the PSC approved in Georgia Power’s 2013 Integrated Resource Plan.

This allotment of the Georgia Power program comes in the form of distributed generation, typically smaller projects that involve solar power for use at the site where it is generated. Electricity produced through distributed generation is then connected to the utilities’ distribution system, reducing the need to transport the power elsewhere. Georgia Power’s Advanced Solar Initiative is planned to run through the end of next year.

This initiative was approved by the Georgia Public Service Commission in November 2012, as a solar energy purchase program that contracted for 210 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity in 2014. GPASI was created to encourage economic growth and renewable development within the Georgia solar community without any upward rate pressure and reliability impacts to Georgia Power customers.

Georgia Power devised two programs to foster solar development in Georgia:

  • offer existing Georgia Power customers additional options to sell distributed solar generation back to Georgia Power through small and medium scale power purchase programs
  • offer solar developers the opportunity to bring large photovoltaic (PV) solar arrays to market through a competitive and utility-scale RFP. In July 2013, the Public Service Commission approved an additional 525 MW of solar capacity. 515 MW were procured through the Utility Scale program and 100 MW will be procured through the Distributed Generation Program in 2015.

GPASI Success with Georgia Military Bases

Other solar power installments in Georgia include:

  • In December 2014, Georgia PSC approved the Kings Bay solar project for the construction of a 30-megawatt solar installation between Georgia Power Company and the S. Navy. This project should begin in 2016.
  • In October 2014, the PSC approved three other 30-megawatt solar projects to be built at three U.S. Army bases in Georgia: Fort Stewart near Savannah, Fort Benning near Columbus and Fort Gordon near Augusta.

Hopefully, the installation of these solar projects will help the four bases avoid the next round of military base closings. During the last round of budget-cutting base closures in 2005, The Pentagon ordered the closure of four military bases in Georgia, including: The Army’s Fort, Fort Gillem in Forest Park, Naval Air Station-Atlanta and a Navy supply school in Athens.

Solar power and Georgia have been teaming up the last couple of years with great success. Some of the success stories for 2013, 2014 and 2015 include:

  • Solar jobs in Georgia soared by 225 percent between 2012 and last year – the largest increase in the nation.
  • Solar jobs account for most of the state’s 64,000 clean-energy jobs according to a report released by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
  • Georgia was seventh in the country in 2013 in new solar capacity generated, with 91 megawatts of solar power.
  • Georgia ranked seventh in the country in 2014 with $326.2 million in private investment in solar power.

Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald said, “This is just another step as we move toward a very solid plan for solar distribution in Georgia.”