Last November, the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) passed a resolution asking the General Assembly to consider legislation that deploys solar energy statewide thereby lowering utility bills. House Bill 657, introduced March 22, was the legislative answer.
Officially named the Rural Georgia Economic Recovery and Solar Resource Act of 2014, the bill's description says “it is in the public interest to encourage broader participation in the deployment of solar electric generation by residents, businesses and community institutions to achieve economies of scale for solar generation facilities, financing advantages, lower costs, improved reliability and optimized generation capacity.”
State Rep. Rusty Kidd co-sponsored the legislation and was commended in a Thursday visit to the capitol by PSC commissioners Tim Echols, Lauren “Bubba” McDonald and Doug Everett. The members cited a new age using a zero-cost fuel source that places downward pressure on energy rates.
Robert Green, CEO of Georgia Solar Utilities (GaSU) and Greenavations Power, laid out financial modeling plans in his PSC petition last fall. He suggested investing Georgia Power's technology and removing its market control.
A method around the Georgia Territorial Rights Act (TRA) of 1973 pushed the idea forward. The TRA gave Georgia Power exclusive rights to serve its customers.
“We found that we could utilize a community solar mechanism, and it didn't violate the Territorial Rights Act. It allowed us to move ahead,” Green said.
The energy landscape, as described in the new bill, has a PSC-certified independent community solar provider. Anybody that wants solar energy in the utility mix can volunteer through his or her power bill.
Georgia Power would automatically blend in the solar supplies from community solar. Green sees solar production chewing up other energy forms, while rewarding the customer.
“At the end of each year, all the profits are split up on a pro rata basis amongst all the ratepayers or the electrons are blended back in, and it just hauls rates down for everybody,” Green said. “If you don't have to burn something to make electrons, who is going to win that race for the cost of electrons?”