I live and work in south Florida and have been a clean energy advocate for well over a decade. During that time, Florida’s families and businesses have overwhelmingly supported more solar power in Florida’s energy mix. Yet, the Sunshine State’s elected leaders and biggest power companies have failed to deliver on the desire for more solar power. Florida, for instance, is the 3rd largest electricity market in the country, but ranked a mere 18th in 2013 for installed solar photovoltaics (PV).
Which brings me to Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) skeptical view of solar power.
Peer utilities in other states have taken a different view on solar power.
Georgia’s largest utility, Georgia Power, is on pace to have nearly 800 MW of solar power by the end of 2016. The bulk of this capacity will be added through Georgia Power’s Advanced Solar Initiative (ASI), which was expanded by the Georgia PSC last year by an additional 525 MW. ASI consists of utility scale solar projects with a smaller portion comprised of distributed solar – like rooftop solar. In approving the program, the Georgia PSC found that the Georgia Power’s ASI solar program will provide valuable cost effective power to its customers. Yes, that’s right, the levelized cost of the solar power is cheaper than the fossil/nuke alternatives.
Georgia is adding so much solar power to the grid this year that the state could rank in the top five for solar installations in 2014. Approval of the program indicates that Georgia is thinking big on solar – and recognizing the value of solar. Its commitment is driving significant investment and job creation in its solar industry and will meaningfully expand solar into its energy mix – but it wouldn’t have happened without buy-in from the state’s largest utility and PSC.
Other southeastern neighbors are tapping the benefits of solar power as well. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) could sign new agreements for up to 126 megawatts of solar this year through small-scale and large-scale programs. In North Carolina, 335 MW was installed in 2013, accounting for nearly three quarters of a billion dollars in investment!
This blog was written by a former staff member of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
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