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Tue November 20, 2012
State Regulators Vote To Boost Solar Development
The Public Service Commission unanimously approved Tuesday a plan to significantly increase the amount of solar Georgia Power makes available to customers.
Over the next three years, Georgia Power will triple its solar capacity. The company will buy it from private developers - from individual homeowners with solar panels to utility-scale solar farms.
Public Service Commissioner Doug Everett, who for years stood opposed to solar investment, said he now believes solar should be a larger part of Georgia’s energy mix.
“We’ve got to look at everything. We’ve got to be pro-active, we can’t be reactive. And this is one area because the cost of it has gone down to the point that it is competitive with today’s prices.”
Meanwhile, in a separate, more contentious decision, the commission voted 3-2 to approve a resolution stating it would be open to a change in the Territorial Act, which grants Georgia Power exclusive control over solar development in the state.
It’s a symbolic gesture, but an important one.
The PSC doesn't have the authority to amend state law, but Commissioner Bubba McDonald said he hopes the resolution encourages lawmakers at the State Capitol to consider it.
“We have a responsibility if we are presented with technology changes and if the people across the street [at the Capitol] want to invite us over to share our knowledge and experience with them, we’ll be glad to do it."
Commissioner Stan Wise argued strongly against it, saying the PSC had just taken major action in support of solar development. He said the resolution was unnecessary.
“Someone’s going to wave this next January and say we’re encouraging the legislature to reopen the Territorial Act and throw out 30 years of regulatory framework.”
Support for the resolution grew after a Macon-based company, Georgia Solar Utilities, asked the commission if it could sell solar power directly to customers.