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

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


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. ( 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                                                      

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.


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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2018 GA Solar Essay Contest

Students in Grades 6 – 10, tell us what you think:
How can solar energy help my community?
The Georgia Solar Energy Association invites students in Grades 6 – 10 to enter the GA Solar Essay Contest.

This year’s topic: How can solar energy help my community?

Here is what you need to know to enter the contest: Essays must be 250 – 300 words

  • One entry per student
  • Submitted with a cover page with title of essay, name, school, teacher’s name
  • printed on one side of 8.5 x 11 white paper
  • double-spaced
  • one inch margins
  • 12 point font

Submit via e-mail to [email protected] and CC [email protected] - or via mail to 1199 Euclid Avenue, Atlanta GA 30307

Must be able to attend and read essay at the 2018 GA Solar Holiday Luncheon on December 13, 2018 at Mason Fine Arts Center with a parent/teacher/guardian.

Dec 13th Event Address:
Mason Fine Arts Center
415 Plasters Ave NE, #100
Atlanta, GA 30324
Time: 11:00- 2:00PM

Admittance is free for student and guest

Deadline for submission is DECEMBER 5TH, 2018 at noon.

The winner will be contacted on December 7, 2018 and will be invited/required to read his/her essay at the GA Solar Holiday Luncheon on December 13, 2018.

Winner will also receive a cash prize.

All essays become the property of GA Solar and cannot be returned. Essays will be judged using the rubric provided.

Contact Info:
Dana Redden
Education Chair GA Solar Energy Association

[email protected]

10th Anniversary - GA Solar Summit Celebration Video

Thursday, October 25th, 2018 saw the 10th Anniversary of Georgia Solar's Southern Solar Summit at Atlanta's Carter Center. Over 100 attendees joined for a lively conference with keynote speakers Bill Nussey, Anya Schoolman, a panel discussion of the Weather Channel's "Killing Clean" documentary and more.  A direct link to our video can be found by clicking here.


WEATHER CHANNEL DOCUMENTARY: Killing Clean is a documentary about Ohio that examines the forces pushing back on renewable energy progress. Opponents of solar and other renewable resources have mobilized across the country to undermine increasing adoption and deployment of renewable energy. “Killing Clean” demonstrates how they zeroed in on Ohio as an early win for their effort to fight clean energy policy at the state level. Ultimately, the initiative failed, in part because renewable energy advocates reminded Ohio’s leaders about the jobs and investment their commitment to renewable energy has produced. At Georgia Solar's 10th Anniversary Southern Solar Summit, moderator Julie Hairston, producer Marisa Venegas, Reporter Brad Wieners, and Greenlink Founder Matt Cox discussed the Ohio face-off. A direct link to our video can be found here.

Message from the Chair - 10th Anniversary Southern Solar Summit!

Message from the Chair - 10th Anniversary Southern Solar Summit!

Tariff-ed out? Let’s talk about the 10th Anniversary Southern Solar Summit!

Yes, I agree. Concerns about the potential effect of tariffs on imported cells and panels seemed to dominate every solar conversation over the last year. We have all become a bit numb to talk of cost effects and a possible damper on growth.

So, now the time has come to talk about the future of Solar in Georgia. We have a lot going on. What better way to get a plethora of information in one day regarding key topics on the current and future of solar than a day with fellow solar professionals and advocates? Along with new trends in Georgia at our 10th Anniversary Southern Solar Summit on October 25th at the Carter Center, we will have discussions of national trends. This is our second Summit at the historic, solar-powered Carter Center.

We have a full day’s agenda of nationally recognized speakers and topics ranging from local to national scope. You will be glad to get updates from the Georgia Public Service Commissioners.  Anya Schoolman, the nationally known advocate and Executive Director of Solar United Neighbors, will talk about “Rooftop Solar.” Killing Clean, the award-winning Weather Channel documentary, will be followed by a panel discussing the unseen political forces working against clean energy. We will have updates from Southface on solar data collection and SELC on local policies that discourage solar adoption. To top it off, Bill Nussey. the author of “Freeing Energy” (to be published in 2019) will tell us what he’s been up to in the last year - which is very intriguing. You don’t want to miss these great, informative presentations.

In between all the sessions, there will be networking opportunities galore for talking and sharing experiences with other folks in the various branches of the solar industry.

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Russell Seifert Chairman's Remarks - "GA Solar Elects a New Chair"

GA Solar Elects a New Chair - Russell Seifert

These are exciting times in the solar industry. Ten years ago, in 2008, the cost of a solar panel installation was $8.82 per watt.

The solar industry today looks very different: in addition to solar panel efficiency increasing dramatically, solar panel producers have significantly improved their manufacturing processes. Solar installers, too, can deploy solar PV across the United States more efficiently now than they could 10 years ago.

The result: the price of solar has fallen by over 60 percent, to just $3.14/watt. This market has followed the pattern of Moore’s Law in the computer and semi-conductor industry.

Solar energy is creating more jobs than any other sector of the economy. Plus, energy storage is becoming more mainstream. Homeowners and business owners alike see the “Real Value” in a sustainable product that lasts longer than most other investments they make in their lifetime.

That being said, a new phase of our work as a maturing industry has begun. We cannot just sit back and let the market do its thing. We have seen surrounding states’ (e.g., North Carolina, South Carolina) newly initiated programs rise and pass Georgia’s progress in just a matter of a few short years.

The next 12 months will bring us some of the most critical political challenges we have yet faced as an industry: the IRP (Integrated Resource Plan) and the “Rate Case.” These two major milestones are part of the regulation the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) is mandated by Georgia law to provide as overseers of our power generation.

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Barriers to Solar Adoption Stifle Economic Development

   Last year, GA Solar joined with other stakeholders in successful negotiations with Central Georgia EMC to alleviate punitive and discriminatory fees aimed exclusively at solar customers.  Since then, our members and their customers have encountered similar charges in other locations throughout the state.

   Growing numbers of homeowners and businesses are looking for cleaner, and more economical, energy resources. As they do, these practices are increasingly coming into question, even as they quietly discourage local economic development.

   In my own work helping communities organize cost-saving, bulk-buying Solarize programs, I have encountered difficulties in the cities of Covington and Oxford, GA, for example, where some residents would like to organize a Solarize Newton County initiative.

   The City of Oxford operates its own power utility, which charges solar customers an additional $11.15 per kilowatt of installed solar per month on their electric bill. This means a solar customer with a 5 kW solar array would pay an additional $55.75 every month on their power bill before they use a single watt of electricity. This discriminatory charge clearly presents a daunting barrier to any consideration of solar adoption by residents and businesses in Oxford.

   Steep penalties on solar can significantly undercut local efforts to attract significant economic development. Many major U.S. corporations now apply their public commitment to renewable energy as a core value in the location of new facilities.

   A recent local beneficiary of this trend is Walton EMC, whose solar generation assets will power the new $750 million Facebook data center in Social Circle. Facebook is far from alone in its commitment to solar energy for powering its operations. From retail outlets such as Walmart, Target, IKEA, and Macy’s to other economic powerhouses such as Apple, Intel, GM, and Amazon, access to reasonably priced solar is important to facility location decisions.

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The Georgia Public Service Commission: Why Your Vote Matters!

The Georgia Public Service Commission: Why Your Vote Matters!

Two seats on the five-member Georgia Public Service Commission are on the ballot this year. So, what is the Georgia Public Service Commission or “PSC”?  The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) is the governing body that regulates the rates and services of “public utilities” in the state, including telecommunications, electricity (meaning our Georgia Power bills) and natural gas.

Current PSC Commissioners include H. Doug Everett, Commissioner, District 1; Tim Echols, Vice Chairman and Commissioner, District 2, Chuck Eaton, Commissioner, District 3, Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, Jr., PSC Chairman and Commissioner, District 4 and Patricia Pridemore, Commissioner, District 5.

As a nonprofit, the Georgia Solar Energy Association (GA Solar) cannot recommend any specific candidate.  However, we urge Georgia residents to do your homework!  Your vote matters!

GA Solar sent out a questionnaire to all PSC candidates to help voters understand where the candidates stand on issues related to the PSC’s responsibilities. The following candidates responded to our questionnaire as of May 15:  Lindy Miller, candidate for District 3; Ryan Graham, candidate for District 3, and John Turpish, candidate for District 5.  The following candidates have not responded: Chuck Eaton, incumbent candidate for District 3; Patricia Pridemore, incumbent candidate for District 5; and Dawn Randolph, candidate for District 5.  You can read the unedited responses at this link:

Georgia has some of the lowest utility rates in the nation.  However, that is about to change.  Electricity rates are set to resume a historic rate of increase over the next six years.

FROM GA Solar Chair Don Moreland’s BLOG POST, February 7, 2018:

“ … In 2016, the Georgia Public Service Commission and Georgia Power agreed to freeze rates until the next rate case in 2019. A lot has happened since then. Georgia Power purchased Atlanta Gas & Light for $12 billion and the cost to build Plant Vogtle 3 and 4 have soared to a total of $25 billion. These two events have not been factored into rates yet but all that’s about to change in 2019.

Before the freeze on rates, according to the last 18 years of data available on the PSC website, Georgia Power customers experienced an average rate increase of 2.5% per year. If we are to assume that amount of rate increase will resume in 2019, then rates will increase 12.5% over the next 6 years.

At the PSC website, there is a page entitled: “Meet the Commission” at this link:  Each Commissioner’s profile includes a link entitled, “Get my views on…” where detail about the Commissioner’s votes, including date and subject, are included."

Again, your vote matters! Although the candidates represent specific districts, every voter in Georgia will be asked to vote for a candidates for each seat. Please invest time in getting to know the candidates and their positions!

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