The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) approved Georgia Power’s 20-year Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) Thursday by a 4-1 vote with additional solar requirements.
Georgia Power must bring an additional 525 megawatts of solar power on by 2016. Along with the utility’s existing Advanced Solar Initiative program, that will bring almost 800 megawatts of solar online in three years.
In the end, Commissioner Stand Wise was the lone “no” vote on the 20-year plan, which otherwise didn’t change much from the company’s original proposal.
Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald Jr. proposed the motion of the additional megawatts that by a 3-2 board vote became part of the utility’s IRP.
The amended motion requires that 260 megawatts to be brought online by 2015 and 265 MW by 2016. The new solar generation includes 100 MW of distributed generation and 425 MW of utility scale solar, which requires competitive building.
“I believe this is the right step to take if we are to encourage the development and use of solar energy,” McDonald said Thursday. “This motion is not a mandate, but an expansion of Georgia Power’s current solar portfolio.”
Commissioner Tim Echols supported the solar motion.
“Commissioner McDonald’s motion adding 525 megawatts of solar to our 20-year energy plan is a hedge against more coal regulation and natural gas price volatility,” Echols said. “When the President finishes his war on coal, he’ll come after fracking, and gas prices will surely go up. We have to be ready.”
The IRP is submitted by Georgia Power every three years, and it projects as far as 20 years what electricity Georgians will have to power their communities, homes, schools and businesses. One of the key aspects of the proposed plan would be that solar must not cause electricity rates to go up.
Robert Green, CEO of Georgia Solar Utilities (GaSU) and Greenavations Power, said the PSC decision was “very wise” and they “did the right thing.”