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.

Many states in the U.S – and some in the Southeast - have adopted new policies to support and encourage rooftop solar, but Georgia isn’t among them. Elected officials and local organizations in neighboring states have collaborated on solar legislation to make solar more accessible for rooftop customers. Florida and the Carolinas have surpassed Georgia in opening up their DG markets over just two to three years. While Georgia led the way on utility scale solar, it suddenly lags behind in DG, sort of like the Tortoise and the Hare. But why?

At GA Solar, we believe Georgia can again rejoin the ranks of innovative solar leadership in the Southeast. With the right vision and the resolve to create innovative policy, Georgia became a new hub for the movie industry, which has contributed billions to our state’s economy.  With our reputation for business-friendly culture, we have attracted more Fortune 500 company headquarters to Atlanta than any other city in the Southeast. Many of those companies include a commitment to renewable energy use among their company mission fundamentals.

So, read articles linked in our e-newsletter. They are informative and captivating. Then ask yourself and your elected officials, “Why don’t we have more rooftop solar in Georgia?” -

Your elected leadership needs to hear from you about this! Georgia’s ongoing competitive viability for economic development may hang in that balance.

Thank You!
Russell Seifert

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