The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) has voted to approve a solar resource plan that should result in an increase in Georgia Power’s solar energy procurement by 6 to 9 GW through 2035 and add 500 MW of battery storage to the energy grid. Energy storage, when paired with solar can keep the lights on even in extreme weather conditions or spikes in electricity demand.
The PSC approved the creation of a Distributed Generation Working Group. The group – which will be composed of representatives from utilities, the solar industry, and PSC staff – will develop recommendations for growing the distributed energy market in Georgia.
“It’s extremely heartening to see the Commission prioritize growth of distributed renewable energy through the establishment of a working group,” says Tully Blalock, senior vice president of SolAmerica Energy and policy co-chair of the Georgia Solar Industries Association (SEIA). “Distributed generation is the clear path forward for Georgia’s economy, workforce, and public health. We’re excited to see the commission recognize the crucial role of distributed generation in such a tangible way.”
Also before the PSC was a vote to expand Georgia Power’s monthly netting program by as much as 1%5, bringing rooftop solar within reach for 75,000 Georgia households. Commission Vice Chair Tim Echols – who has been a champion for net metering expansion – brought the measure forward, before it failed in a 3-2 vote.
The pilot program compensates rooftop solar customers fairly for excess electricity they produce. It was launched in 2020. The program’s popularity and success was quickly evident, with thousands signing up to enjoy affordable rooftop solar. Advocates began urging the PSC, after the pilot had reached its 5,000-customer limit mid-2021. This was when advocates began to urge the PSC not to lower the cap and expand solar access throughout the state.
“We applaud some of the Commission’s decisions, and are optimistic that the commission will address net metering in the upcoming Georgia Power rate case to bring affordable rooftop solar within reach for tens of thousands of Georgia families,” says Allison Kvien, Southeast regulatory director at Vote Solar. “Monthly netting empowers families to lower their monthly bills and contribute to a cleaner, more resilient energy grid through rooftop solar. We thank Vice Chair Echols and Commissioner McDonald for their leadership on this critical issue, and will continue our efforts to make solar affordable and accessible to all Georgians.”
“Georgia took significant steps in expanding renewable energy development across the state today,” says Will Giese, Southeast regional director at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “The solar and storage additions to Georgia Power’s integrated resource plan will help ease the inflation pinch on Georgia families through the procurement of stable, low-cost clean energy. While the Commission missed an important opportunity to expand the state’s net metering pilot, it’s encouraging to see them create a distributed generation working group. In the face of rising energy prices, we will continue to advocate for solutions that expand clean energy access to all Georgia ratepayers.”