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.