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GA Solar honors Jonnell Minefee as GA Solar Woman in Solar 2021 Award

This June GA Solar held our sixth annual Women in Solar Energy (WISE) event. As an organization we recognize the need for  more women and people of color in our solar community. In 2019 the Solar Foundation researched diversity in our industry and found that women and African Americans are both underrepresented in the solar workforce and identified a wide gender gap in pay, advancement, and job satisfaction.

Our WISE event addresses this challenge head on and shines a light on women making a difference in Georgia’s solar landscape. We’ve also given out NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) scholarships that pay for the  NABCEP PV Installation Professional Certification Exam fees of women interested in breaking into our industry and offer networking and mentorship opportunities to up-and- comers.

This year's WISE event highlighted two policy makers who have proposed legislation that, when passed, will help grow the solar industry in a major way. Senate Minority leader Gloria Butler and Senator Kay Kirkpatrick are co-sponsors of SB 299, The Georgia Solar Freedom Act. The Senators spoke on a panel about their support for solar from job creation to resilience and increased energy choice and diversity.

The panel was hosted by our own Jennette Gayer, co-chair and Director of Environment Georgia and Theresa Garcia Robertson, Executive Director of Conservatives for Clean Energy Georgia Chapter.

To close the program a surprise guest, Abby Ross Hopper, the CEO of the Solar Energy Industry Association joined the webinar to give GA Solar’s 2021 Woman in Solar award to Jonnell Carol Minefee of Solar Tyme USA. 

Jonnell is the managing partner with Solar Tyme USA based in Columbus GA and has been on the board of GA Solar since 2016. Since joining the board she has, often single handedly, kept the Women in Solar event going and is a tireless advocate for women and people of color in the solar industry.

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Georgia Solar Slowdown as Georgia Power Program Reaches Cap

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Georgia Solar Slowdown as Georgia Power Program Reaches Cap

Atlanta, GA – The rapid adoption of solar energy systems by Georgia home and business owners under Georgia Power’s ‘Monthly Net Metering’ program is about to grind to a halt and could threaten solar jobs in the state. When the Public Service Commission established the program in 2019 it placed a cap on the number of customers that could benefit from monthly netting. That cap has now been reached and it happened much more quickly than anyone anticipated. 

“For the first time in state history, Georgia Power customers with solar panels on their homes or businesses can get full credit for energy exported to the utility,” said Montana Busch co-Chair of the GA Solar Energy Association (GA Solar) and CEO of Alternative Energy Southeast, headquartered in Athens. “This policy has helped to create hundreds of new jobs in one year. If the PSC’s cap stands we will lose many of these good paying jobs”.

Monthly Net Metering is a basic utility policy which credits solar customers at the retail rate for the solar energy fed back into the grid, required in Georgia’s 2001 Co-Generation and Distribution Act. An analysis provided by the Southern Environmental Law Center shows monthly-net metering as an industry-standard utility solar policy.  Under Monthly Net Metering, customers essentially get credited the full retail value of their solar (up to their monthly usage) instead of the wholesale rate (⅕ of the avg. retail rate) Georgia Power previously credited for all solar exports.

Georgia Power’s monthly net metering program was created as a part of the 2019 Public Service Commision (PSC) Rate Case with the support of GA Solar. The Public Service Commission added a cap of 5,000 customers or 32MW of capacity, whichever comes first. Under this program, rather than instantly crediting a customer's excess solar generation at wholesale prices, the utility uses excess solar power to offset consumption, thereby further reducing the customer's bill. 

“The pilot monthly net metering program has been a big success for Georgia Power customers and the growing solar industry” said Russell Seifert, CEO of Creative Solar USA in Kennesaw Georgia “We’ve been in the State for 13 years and the adoption of the monthly net metering program for Georgia Power was a signal to us that Georgia was finally becoming a mature solar market. Now isn’t the time to put a cap on Georgia’s solar opportunity. Neighboring southern states already have many times more than Georgia Power’s 5000 customers with on-site solar: South Carolina with over 20,000; Florida with almost 60,000.”

Georgia’s Solar Industry has added dozens of new companies and thousands of new solar installations under the program in 2021. Now that the caps have been met, Georgia Power customers interested in solar energy will only be able to recoup wholesale power costs from excess energy they produce.  If the Public Service Commission does not extend the program the Georgia Solar Energy Association warns that hundreds of solar jobs are at risk as companies re-evaluate their presence in the state.

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GA Solar 2021 Legislative Update

The 2021 Georgia General Assembly (GGA) concluded with the solar industry introducing Senate Bill 299. The bill has cleanup language for the 2001 Cogeneration Act and the 2015 Solar Free Market Act to increase profitability for solar companies and increase affordability and access for consumers. SB 299 also opens up more solar opportunities for net metering (aka "monthly netting"), churches, and nonprofits.

The 2021 GGA session was extremely light on introduced legislation given the COVID-19 budget impact. The next biggest item was HB 150 and its companion bill, SB 102. The bill would prohibit governmental entities from adopting any policy that prohibits the connection or reconnection of any utility service based upon the type or source of energy or fuel. It passed both chambers and is headed to Governor Kemp’s desk. A silver lining: it also keeps local governments from preventing solar or any other fuel/energy type.

The last real bill of interest was SB 213, relating to contracts and purchases by public schools, so as to provide for payment on guaranteed energy saving contracts by local school systems using proceeds from local option sales taxes collected for educational purposes; to provide for phased implementation of energy or operational cost savings measures. It has passed both chambers and is headed to Governor Kemp’s desk for signature.

Other solar and clean energy related bills:

  • HR172, Smith, House Study Committee on Georgia Utility Facility Safety Improvements; create
  • HR211, Evans, Governor; join United States Climate Alliance; urge
  • HB388, Mainor, Atlanta Technology and Energy Enhancement Authority Act; enact
  • HB449, Smith, Georgia Utility Facility Protection Act; revise
  • HB482, Lim, Ad valorem tax; property; provisions
  • HB483, Frye, Property owners' associations; creating or enforcing covenants which infringe upon a lot owner's right to install a solar energy device; prohibit
  • HB576, Rhodes, Education; payment on guaranteed energy saving contracts by local school systems using proceeds from local option sales taxes; provide

 

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Georgia Senate Bill Shines Light on Solar Power

Media Contact:
Don Moreland
770.548.2714
Georgia Senate Bill Shines Light on Solar Power

Senate Bill 299 would remove barriers to solar energy that advocates say will help create thousands of new jobs.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  Atlanta, GA (March 18, 2021) — Georgia Senate Rules Chairman Jeff Mullis dropped Senate Bill 299 this week, a bill to improve the regulatory environment for solar and remove barriers to economic growth. "Georgia's solar industry is ready to fuel major economic growth across the entire state for years to come", says Montana Busch, Co-Chairman of the Georgia Solar Energy Association. "Senate Bill 299 helps remove barriers to solar energy that have held rooftop solar energy back from growing thousands of new jobs for Georgians and will create a level playing field for solar to compete in a free-market fashion". 

"Georgia's solar power resources can be an economic engine for every corner of Georgia" says Busch, "by clarifying the existing laws, SB 299 helps to take the shackles off Georgia's sun to benefit every business, home, school, and houses of worship in the state while growing thousands of new, good paying jobs in the process".

Georgia currently ranks Top Ten in installed solar energy capacity with enough solar energy to power over 300,000 homes, making up just 3.4% of the State's electricity coming from solar. Solar energy currently employs 4,900 Georgians, and in 2019 Georgia had the highest percentage solar jobs growth amongst all states (30%). Currently, less than 4% of all solar installed in Georgia is owned by consumers where the energy savings generated directly benefits business owners, homeowners, schools, and houses of worship. In some neighboring states that same figure is more than 20%. Passage of SB 299 will eliminate critical barriers to customer-owned solar energy and give greater access to the financial benefits of solar to more Georgians. 

Follow the Georgia Solar Association on Twitter or on Facebook, or visit their website at www.gasolar.org/.

The Georgia Solar Association is a 501(c)3 organization established to benefit Georgia energy consumers by advocating for solar power in Georgia. Comprised of leading experts in solar manufacturing and installation, academia, finance, and the law, GA Solar is leading the effort in Georgia to promote the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy through education, advocacy, and industry support.

Natural gas was the biggest contributor to the Texas grid outage of 2021

March 13, 2021 By Bill Nussey

Natural gas was the biggest contributor to the Texas grid outage of 2021

Clean energy became one of the hottest topics in the US in early 2021. This was, in part, thanks to the new administration’s climate-focused cabinet picks and their overall emphasis on clean energy. Sadly, the biggest clean energy headlines in February came from Texas, which experienced one of the worst power outages in recent US history. Seventy people lost their lives. Four million people lost power, some for many days.

Unfortunately, the efforts to understand how this happened and how to prevent a repeat devolved into political finger-pointing. Texas Governor Greg Abbot went on TV to make the case that solar and wind were to blame for the outages and that fossil fuels are the only reliable way to power electric grids. Conservative political leaders and talking heads echoed this message across the media in an attempt to slow the growth of clean energy

The fact is that nearly every type of power plant fell short during the Texas outage, including nuclear, coal, natural gas, and wind. But it was natural gas, by far, that contributed to the power plant failures that ultimately took down so much of the grid. The frustrating part of this needless debate is that the facts are not in dispute. The hour-by-hour status of Texas’ grid is a matter of public record, freely available from both state and federal sources. To show just how obvious this is, I downloaded the grid power plant mix for a few days before and during the outage and created this simple graph.

A few things are immediately clear from this graph:

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GA Solar Day Press Release

 
Georgia Solar Energy Association Celebrates

Virtual Solar Day at the Capitol

Nearly 75 Solar Energy Advocates Educate and Engage State Leaders & Energy Stakeholders

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Atlanta, GA (March 11, 2021) — Nearly 75 advocates from across the state attended the Georgia Solar Energy Association’s (GA Solar) Solar Energy Day at the Capitol virtually to highlight the importance of the solar energy industry to Georgia’s economy and quality of life. Solar leaders from around the state engaged decision makers and stakeholders such as Georgia House Energy, Utilities, & Telecommunications Chairman Don Parsons, 2015 Free Market Solar Act sponsor and Lieutenant Governor Policy Director Mike Dudgeon, and Representative Kim Schofield. 

GA Solar’s policy committee shared broad policy priorities and two specific pieces of legislation (HB 483 and HR 70) with attendees as well as tips and strategies to help constituents reach their legislators. HB 483 (Frye) would make it easier for homeowners interested in solar but facing opposition from their Homeowners Association to move forward with an installation. HR 70 (Schofield) is a resolution in favor of a 100% clean and renewable energy by 2050 goal in Georgia.

“We were thrilled to have so many advocates take part in GA Solar’s Virtual Solar Energy Day at the Capitol,” said Montana Busch, Co-Chairman of GA Solar. “Home grown solar energy has become part of the fabric of Georgia and we appreciate the engagement from our state leaders. The economic impact of the solar industry on Georgia is substantial and we want to highlight the solar industry’s contribution as we make energy policy.”

People who were unable to attend Solar Energy Day are encouraged to reach out to their legislator and inspire them to learn more about the positive impacts of solar energy.  For more information, visit www.gasolar.org/.

Follow the Georgia Solar Energy Association on Twitter or on Facebook, and subscribe to their e-newsletter.

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Letter from Co-Chair, Montana Busch

Letter from the Chair:

The association has continued working steadily to help Georgia’s solar industry reach its full potential. I am honored to work alongside the members of this board, many of whom volunteer several hours of their time on a daily basis. Every hour worked is one small step closer.

We recently held the annual board planning retreat which happens every January. Many thanks to Colleen Kiernan and Kate McGreggor-Mosley for their excellent facilitation skills that made the retreat efficient and productive. 

This is a big year for our Policy Committee. The political climate has never been better for solar at both the state and federal levels, and we plan to take full advantage of it. I am not allowed to say much at this time for strategic reasons, but I promise we will share more details in the coming weeks. Be sure to attend GA Solar's first Solar Energy Day at the Capitol event on March 9th, 2-4PM!

Lastly, I wanted to share that many solar companies have reached out to us regarding delays and recent changes to Georgia Power’s RNR application process. We researched the issues and tried to resolve them directly with Georgia Power to no avail. This issue has now been filed with the Georgia Public Service Commission as an official complaint. We will share updates on this critical issue to the growth of solar when they become available. 


In solidarity,

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To a brighter future!

As we wrap up perhaps the most heartbreaking year in memory, so many of my (virtual) conversations revolve around our hope that 2021 will be a happier, healthier one for all, the solar industry included.  For that to happen, we need more than hope.  We need a vision of a brighter future, a roadmap to get us there, and some measurable steps we can take toward a better tomorrow.  

Like me, you likely embrace solar because of that ‘better tomorrow’ a solar world could bring. A solar future means a world free of polluting tailpipes and power plants, a huge new clean energy workforce and people empowered to save money by generating their own energy via rooftop or community solar arrays.

Looking back, despite a tough 2020, Georgia Solar continued to move the needle towards that bright solar future--with our allies we pushed for and won a victory that will help ensure more solar owners receive fairer compensation for the clean energy they generate. We held our fifth annual Women in Solar Energy event to lift up underrepresented Georgians in our industry and we continued to offer a place for Georgia’s solar community to gather (albeit via a zoom square).

Looking forward, we have big plans to share the vision of a bright solar tomorrow further than ever before. We are also working to plot the roadmap that we’ll need to get there into programs, policies and steps that we can pursue in 2021. We hope you’ll join us.

To a brighter future!

Jennette Gayer

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Letter from the Co-Chair

By:  Montana Busch, GA Solar Co-Chairman

 

Hopefully this letter finds you well during these uncertain times. What a year it has shaped up to be. GA Solar, like most organizations, has had to find new ways of interacting with our members. While we haven’t been able to host as many events this year I am proud to say we have had several well attended virtual events. In the Spring, we hosted a webinar to highlight details of the Monthly-Netting victory that GA Solar has fought many years for. In the Summer, we hosted our annual Women in Solar Energy event virtually with Commissioner Pridemore as the Keynote speaker. We will also be hosting a virtual holiday event this year. I look forward to the time when we can all get back together in person again!

GA Solar has been able to maintain regular bi-monthly board meetings and the committees continue working to accomplish their goals. The Policy Committee is preparing a strong agenda for the 2021 Georgia Legislature as well producing new resources for solar consumers. The Events Committee is currently working on a year-end virtual event in lieu of our usual Holiday Luncheon. The Education and Membership Committee along with the Communications Committee went through a lull due to losing several key members. Thanks to the help of new board members those committees have recently begun meeting with renewed vitality and are strategizing how to grow and engage our membership as well as gain more funding. We continue to make ourselves available to answer the many questions we get from calls and emails. There’s also a new ad hoc committee meeting weekly to work on a new initiative we’ll be announcing in Q1. Lastly, the Executive Committee continues to meet regularly to discuss various aspects of the organization and set the agenda for the board meetings.

I personally believe 2021 will be a great year for solar power in Georgia. There are several great Federal solar policies currently being reviewed by Congress and with a little bi-partisan support the solar industry can continue its historic growth that we have witnessed over the past decade. The future of solar is BRIGHT!

Many, many thanks to all who continue to support GA Solar.

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Monthly Netting Webinar Recap

Thanks to the participation of PSC Commissioner, Tim Echols, PSC Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Manager, Jamie Barber, and Southern Environmental Law Center Senior Attorney, Kurt Ebersbach we were able to learn a few things that we didn’t know before the webinar. Below is a recap of the webinar including some things we learned and a few things we are still waiting for clarification on, video of the webinar in its entirety, and some FAQs that help clarify some nuances of the new compensation program. 

 

What we learned: 

  • Georgia Power customers that were on the Renewable Non-renewable tariff (“RNR”) prior to January, 1 2020 will begin to see credits on their bill in July and retroactive to the January billing cycle. Customers that switch to RNR will begin to see credits on their bill in July and retroactive to when they switched. 

  • Customers on a Time-of-Use (“TOU”) rate plan will receive peak-hour credit for generation exported during peak hours.

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A Letter of Hope for the Solar Industry

By Thatcher Young, Velo Solar

 

I know for many this is a time of true hardship and in some cases pain both personally and professionally, and I want to acknowledge this reality. For all those who are suffering, scared and uncertain of the future, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Almost more than any other industry, Solar has seen more than its fair share of volatility.  I often think we should look to Nostradamus rather than the solar press for predictions of our future.  So, in the current crisis I want to take a moment to paint an optimistic picture of how our industry emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since I couldn’t get Nostradamus on the ouija board; I turned to the analytics firm McKinsey for a glimpse into a more hopeful future. In their recent analysis “Addressing climate change in a post-pandemic world,” they explain how COVID will likely realign priorities and perspectives for the better:

“Furthermore, addressing pandemics and climate risk requires the same fundamental shift, from optimizing largely for the shorter-term performance of systems to ensuring equally their longer-term resiliency.” 

“We can already start seeing how the coronavirus pandemic may influence the pace and       nature of climate action, and how climate action could accelerate the recovery by creating jobs, driving capital formation, and increasing economic resiliency.”

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Summary of COVID-19 Stimulus Packages

By Montana Busch, Alternative Energy Southeast

 

Information on the COVID-19 stimulus packages has been coming out rapidly. So far Congress has passed three pieces of legislation and there are talks of a fourth and fifth coming. For our members who may be having a hard time keeping up with all this we wanted to provide a high-level overview and let you know where to get the details. There are eligibility requirements and other limitations for these programs that we won't get into here. This is not legal or financial advice.

COVID-I -- The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act was enacted on March 6th and provided funding for the EIDL (Economic Injury and Disaster Loan). These loans are provided by the SBA and they promise a $10,000 advance on the loan which does not have to be paid back if your application for the EIDL is denied. The entire state of Georgia is considered an eligible location as we are a hot zone for the virus. Click here for more information.

COVID-II -- The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law on March 18th and made active on April 1st. It provides tax credits to employers who offer up to two weeks of paid sick leave and/or up to 10 weeks of paid family medical leave. Employers can claim this tax credit immediately for full reimbursement through reduced payroll taxes. Click here for more information.

COVID-III -- The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted on March 27th and brought the Paycheck Protection Program Loan (PPPL), tax relief and unemployment insurance expansion. The PPPL is a fully forgivable loan if the business meets certain requirements including keeping the same number of employees. The U.S. Treasury Department has advised businesses to apply for PPPL quickly because there is a funding cap. While the application was just released on April 3rd, banks are saying they’ve already received an influx of applications. Lawmakers intend to add more funds to the PPPL in future legislation that is already in the works. To learn about the application for the EIDL or PPPL Click here.

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Georgia Solar Energy Association Lauds Improved Compensation for Rooftop Solar

 

Georgia Solar Energy Association Lauds Improved Compensation for Rooftop Solar

 Atlanta, GA – The Georgia Solar Energy Association applauds a new compensation program for Georgia Power customers that install their own solar. This program could improve the ROI for onsite solar investments.

The program, available to 5,000 Georgia Power solar customers or 32Mw, whichever comes first, will credit them at a higher rate for the energy they feed to the grid. This is made possible by what is referred to as “Monthly Netting of Energy.” Under this program, rather than instantly crediting a customer’s excess solar generation at wholesale prices, the utility will use it to offset consumption, thereby further reducing the customer's bill. That means residential solar customers could receive $400+ annually in additional savings over the current compensation formula.

Requirements, procedures and applications for the program are currently being developed.

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GA Solar Honors PSC Chairman with Solar Advocate Award

GA Solar Honors PSC Chairman with Solar Advocate Award

Recognition Celebrates His Pivotal Role in Creating the State’s Thriving Solar Market

 

Atlanta, GA – Georgia Public Service Commission Chairman Lauren “Bubba” McDonald will be honored at 11 a.m. on Thursday, December 12, in ceremonies at an annual Holiday Luncheon at Mason Fine Art, 415 Plasters Ave., NE, Atlanta, GA.

The Georgia Solar Energy Association Board of Directors unanimously chose Chairman McDonald for this year’s honor. The award will be a tribute to his effective perennial advocacy for solar in Georgia over more than a decade. Chairman McDonald has worked with utilities, industry professionals and other advocates over the years to establish and steadily expand Georgia’s solar market.

As a result, many Georgia communities formerly overlooked in economic development initiatives have prospered with solar investments that provide them with needed revenue. Georgia’s growing solar market provides nearly 4,000 jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity to the state’s economic digest each year, thanks to initiatives proposed and supported by Chairman McDonald.

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Message from the ED - August E-News

Message from the Executive Director - August 2019 E-News

I had the opportunity to join PSC Commissioner Tim Echols and his Co-Host John Noel last week on their radio show, Energy Matters (Listen: Episode 31). We discussed a number of topics, including the trend of NFL and College teams who make it to playoff and championship games coming from some of the most sustainable stadiums in the country. (As a Falcon’s fan, It’s only right that I pause here and declare “This is our year!”)  And, of course, we talked about how GA Solar serves the state’s solar interest through education and advocacy.

As I prepared for the show, I reflected on the organization’s history. I’ve personally been along for seven years of the journey but the Georgia Solar Energy Association dates back to 2002. That’s 17 years of education and advocacy efforts to establish and grow our solar industry in the South. In light of its humble beginnings, GA Solar members celebrated last month’s announcements of IRP rulings as a milestone achievement we can be significantly proud of. GA Solar, in partnership with GASEIA, intervened in several areas of the IRP and consider the outcome a victory for our ongoing efforts to carve a path of access for less-common types of solar producers through our Solar for All campaign.

The plan proposed by PSC Chairman Lauren “Bubba” McDonald and approved by the PSC will create a range of solar investment options in the Georgia Power resources blueprint for the next 20 years. In the largest category, utility scale solar, the plan will add two gigawatts (2,000 megawatts) to the state’s growing portfolio of large solar farms. McDonald’s plan includes 1,000 megawatts of installations known as CRSP (Customer Renewable Supply Procurement) for GPC customers statewide, with an electrical demand greater than 3MW.

As a result of our efforts, the plan reserves 210 megawatts for distributed generation, AKA “rooftop solar” and an additional 50 megawatts for customer-sited solar arrays 1kW – 3MW in size.

If you’ve donated, served, attended, campaigned, shared a post or emailed your PSC or state representative, thank you.  Your efforts aided in these accomplishments.  The fight for fair and equitable solar policy continues as we advocate for all consumers of electricity throughout the state, including customers of EMCs and Municipal Electric Authorities, to have access to reasonably priced solar resources. GA Solar will continue to push to remove barriers to rooftop solar, protect consumers, and unlock the free-market potential of solar promising continued growth for years to come.

Georgia has a celebrated history and legacy of policy progress, setting the tone for surrounding states. It’s the same with Solar Energy.  Solar’s benefits, if allowed, can positively and dramatically improve the lives of Georgians, from struggling farmers in South Georgia to the most energy burdened parties in the inner city, or from the small business to the Fortune 500 company. Solar energy has the potential to be enjoyed by people of every economic standing, geographic location, or political affiliation, providing the opportunity for anyone and everyone to leave a legacy of clean air and economic opportunity for their kids and grandkids.

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GA Solar 2019 IRP Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 16, 2019
Contact: Lauren Hart
Executive Director
[email protected] | 404-522-4775

Georgia Solar Energy Association Cheers Distributed Generation Solar in 2019 Georgia Power Integrated Resources Plan

Join GA Solar July 30th for an IRP Wrap Celebration!

 
Atlanta, GA - On a motion from Georgia PSC Chairman Lauren "Bubba" McDonald, the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) approved a dramatic increase in the state’s solar resources Tuesday, including capacity reserved for on-site solar customers. Chairman McDonald with the support of Commissioner Chuck Eaton further motioned for a formal review of Georgia Power’s avoided cost methodology.

   McDonald has been a staunch advocate of increasing solar investment in Georgia for the past decade and led the PSC in its successful vision to make Georgia a leading solar market. This plan will help ensure that Georgia remains a top solar market bringing jobs and investment to local communities throughout the state.

   The plan proposed by McDonald and approved by the PSC will create a range of solar investment options in the Georgia Power resources blueprint for the next 20 years. In the largest category, utility scale solar, the plan will add two gigawatts (2,000 megawatts) to the state’s growing portfolio of large solar farms. McDonald’s plan includes 1,000 megawatts of installations known as Customer Renewable Supply Procurement for GPC customers statewide, with an energy use of greater than 3MW.

   Finally, the plan reserves 210 megawatts for distributed generation, AKA “rooftop solar” including 50 megawatts for customer-sited solar arrays. In all, the clean, cost-effective solar energy provided by the new resources authorized in this plan would be enough to power over 200,000 homes for one year.

   The Georgia Solar Energy Association was among the stakeholders engaged with Georgia Power and the PSC in Georgia Power’s 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), seeking more stand-alone DG (Distributed Generation) and a strategic plan for the placement and deployment of DG resources.). GA Solar is grateful to Chairman McDonald for his vision and leadership in the PSC’s approval of this 2019 plan.

       The Georgia Solar Energy Association, the state’s leading voice for solar advocates and professionals, has been a leader in the gains that have allowed the Georgia solar industry flourish over the past 10 years. So far, GA Solar’s efforts have resulted in billions of dollars in local investment that provide ongoing tax benefits for community improvement statewide. This investment not only creates jobs and supports communities, it helps preserve Georgia’s environment for future generations.

   DG - also known as “Behind the Meter” or “Rooftop” - allows homeowners and business owners to put solar generating equipment on their homes or facilities and consume what they generate. Any excess generation flows back into the grid and provides a credit to the array owners for that electricity on their bill. This type of generation has been slow to catch on in Georgia.

   GA Solar members are encouraged by the outcome and believe that a healthy mix of both utility-scale and customer-sited distributed generation, along with a better value of solar to the grid, is key in reaching the full market potential of solar.

   Russell Seifert, President of Creative Solar USA and GA Solar chairman, said the level of participation in the Georgia Power IRP process shows that Georgians and the growing list of Fortune 500 companies who call Georgia home, support clean energy and want affordable, sustainable choices to meet their energy needs.

    “At GA Solar, we believe that everyone deserves access to the financial and environmental benefits that come with renewable energy,” Seifert said. “Embracing a full range of solar access statewide creates a new and attractive way of doing business, one that sparks a revival of the region, promotes investment, and positions the state as a trendsetter for the new economy.
With the continued support of our great leaders at the PSC and the on-going coordination with Georgia Power, we are optimistic that meeting this goal is within reach.”

   GA Solar will continue its engagement with the Georgia Public Service Commission and other stakeholders in the energy market as it seeks a review of Georgia Power’s avoided-cost filing in the upcoming GPC Rate Case and avoided-cost review.

About the Georgia Solar Energy Association: The Georgia Solar Energy Association, is leading the effort in Georgia to promote the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy through education, advocacy and industry support. Our members are working together to make Georgia a leader in innovation, creating jobs, and attracting investment. For more information, visit www.gasolar.org

 

Message from the Chair: where does the solar market go from here?

Message from the Chair - Where does the solar market go from here?

In May, Georgia experienced an energy watershed.  There was a massive solar spill in South Georgia. Photons reached an all-time high and the overflow was uncontainableNo one suffered, no environmental impact occurredand no lingering effects ensued. All affected communities continued to function normally. This overflow of excess photons iknown as a Sunny Day, and we have 215 of them a year, on average, here in Georgia. 

 The GA Solar June 2019 eNews contains a plethora of articles about how adaptable solar energy has become and the economic impact it has contributed over the last decade. Jobs, jobs, jobs! You hear this a lot, but data and documented examples now abound showing the variety of applications for solar energy and how much this contributes to prosperity and productivity. In just the last year alone, the Jinko Solar plant in Jacksonville, FL, has begun production, the Hanwha Q-Cells plant in Dalton, GA, is up and running, and SK Batteries $1.7 billion plant in Commerce, GA, is under construction. These operations will create over 2,800 well-paid new jobs in the region’s renewable energy market. Over half of those jobs will be high tech and specialty.  

Now, solar and energy storage are positively affecting our economy in so many ways and changing our economic landscape with more sustainable, long-term sources of revenue. City and state governments are implementing sustainability goals, including requirements that new and renovated homes have systems adaptable for EV and solar. Building codes are setting new standards for solar and EV as well as storage. Is this costly? It does have a price tag, but it also offers savings over the life of the structure. We need to look at this as the long-term solution instead of continuing the current pattern of repetitive, piecemeal upgrades. 

So, what are the enduring benefits?  

Municipalities and their local business development authorities need to recognize the opportunities solar businesses and the supporting professional stimuli they create contribute to the local tax base. Local utilities sometimes suppress this potential economic impact with discriminatory programs, such as standby fees on solar customersMore collaborative engagement with solar can be a win-win for these utilities and their customers, adding millions of dollars in economic activity to the local economy. 

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Message from the Chair - Utilities Need to Embrace Roof Top Solar or Perish

Message from the Chair - Utilities Need to Embrace Roof Top Solar or Perish

Solar! Residential Solar! Rooftop Solar! Behind the meter solar! Solar and energy storage! These are all terms that utilities didn’t like to hear 25 to 30 years ago. Back then, it was not perceived as a potential threat to their industry. The technology was still in its infancy. Over the last 15 years though, these words have gained traction as more installations came online. Utility executives took note and wondered what to make of this evolving technology. Was it a passing fad, a status symbol for wealthy individuals?

They recognized its potential to reduce the ever-growing revenue stream on which their business model depends, making them uneasy. Plus, human nature resists new ideas and change. For almost a century, the utility industry never had to worry about perpetual growth in demand. Americans are hooked on electricity for every aspect of daily life: cell phones, laptops, air conditioning, entertainment media, etc. Energy (electricity in this context) has become like oxygen that we need to live.

But now, with efficiency on the rise, solar plus storage, and electric vehicles, the upward spiral of  demand for energy is leveling off. So, what should utilities do?

EMBRACE this energy boom!

Utilities are at a pivotal point in their evolution. They can embrace solar energy and storage. Does that mean lost revenue? Wrong!!! Here is why:

1- Rooftop solar helps to balance loads from the grid. It allows utilities to have a more predictable measure for those hot summer days without building “Peaker Plants,” which cost millions of dollars to build and run only when demand from the grid is too high for the primary plants to meet. When “Peaker Plants” are engaged, utilities charge ratepayers extra fees to cover the cost. With rooftop solar on homes and small businesses, the energy demand is reduced from the system, enough in many instances to eliminate the need for the redundant generation facilities.  

2 - Energy storage has hit the market with a vengeance. It has penetrated the residential market alongside solar to extend the effectiveness of solar generation. Over 50% of those who buy solar now add storage as well. Commercial solar is following suit. Why is this helpful to utilities? Again, it supports a more predictable load during high-demand periods by allowing customers to support their own demand loads on-site. Commercial businesses using machinery during hot summer days end up paying 15 to 100 times the customary rate on those days due to “demand charges.” Their on-site generation and storage helps offset those charges and they save money they can use for other business needs in their budgets.

3 - EVs are gaining market share in the U.S. (https://evadoption.com/ev-market-share/). Currently only 1.75%, EV adoption in the market may seem like a small number. However it’s changing and U.S. automakers are responding to their customers. By 2025, 75% of all automobiles sold in the US will be EVs. General Motors is building new plants to meet this demand that will create 15,000 new jobs. Mercedes Benz plans on having 15 model lines of EVs by 2023. Solar and storage will become part of the infrastructure that provides the demand for electricity this trend will create. Still, utilities will remain important to charging those cars.






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Message from the Chair - Rooftop Solar in GA

Message from the Chair - Why don’t we have more rooftop solar in Georgia?

With 2019 dawning, speculation has risen about why the largest state East of the Mississippi has not supported its solar industry as proactively as some of its surrounding states.

In 2013, interest in solar surged in Georgia primarily because of support from the PSC and Georgia Power. That support provided amazing economic benefits for the state as the nation emerged from its most painful recession since the Great Depression. The investment and job creation provided by the growing solar industry brought long-needed relief to many hard-hit parts of the state, putting Georgia on the map as a viable solar market.

The lion’s share of credit for this economic boost goes to the elected members of the PSC. Those commissioners, led by the vision of Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, crafted programs that have served our state well. Starting with the Advanced Solar Initiative (ASI) and evolving into the REDI program, solar initiatives such as these created a well-deserved enthusiasm for the benefits of solar and helped debunk many myths that previously hindered solar adoption.

Since then, the market for solar has steadily “inched” forward. However, an imbalance between utility scale and distributed solar has emerged that other states have done a better job of mitigating. Over 95% of Georgia’s solar resources are utility scale. Utilities have built large sites that generate for the grid and deliver their electricity through existing transmission lines for sale to the utilities’ customers.

DG (Distributed Generation) - also known as “Behind the Meter” or “Rooftop” - allows homeowners and business owners to put solar generating equipment on their homes or facilities and consume what they generate. Any excess generation feeds back into the grid and the array owners receive a credit for that electricity on their bill. This type of generation has been slow to catch on in Georgia.

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2018 GA Solar Advocate Award Winner - Sam Kitchens

 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                      

 MACON-BIBB PARKS AND BEAUTIFICATION DIRECTOR
RECEIVES 2018 SOLAR ADVOCATE AWARD
Sam Kitchens honored for developing municipal uses for solar and saving taxpayer dollars


Macon, GA — The Macon-Bibb Director of Parks and Beautification, and Vice Chairman of the Jones County Board of Commissioners, Sam Kitchens received the 2018 Solar Advocate Award from the Georgia Solar Energy Association on Thursday, December 13th, 2018 at the organization’s annual Holiday Celebration.

LINK: SAM KITCHENS VIDEO

Past Solar Advocate Award winners include the Georgia Public Service Commission (ASI and ASI Prime), Mitchell County Economic Development Authority Chair Joe Bostick (Camilla Solar Farm), former Tybee Island City Councilman Paul Wolff (Solarize Tybee), and Shan Arora (Southface/Georgia Energy Data Map).

Kitchens was honored for his decade-long efforts to bring solar resources and savings to the Macon-Bibb procurement process. As a result of his initiative, four firehouses now have two solar panels each directly connecting to their industrial-sized water heaters.  When firefighters return from a fire, they must shower to remove soot and other residues.  This puts heavy, daily demand on the station’s hot water heaters. The two solar panels on these four firehouses provide hot water around the clock while lowering the county’s utility bill for this need.



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