Solar energy future bright for Georgia

This blog entry was written by Allie Brown, former Clean Energy Advocacy Manager at SACE.

Guest Blog | November 25, 2014 | Energy Policy
Credit: Creative Loafting, Joeff Davis

The solar industry has Georgia on their mind.

The Peach State is now the fastest growing solar market in the country with over 90 megawatts (MW) of solar installed in 2013. Recent findings from The Pew Charitable Trusts concluded that from 2009-2012, Georgia attracted $666 million in private clean energy investment. Over the next decade, Pew predicts that clean energy will contribute to an additional $4.4. billion in Georgia’s economy with solar leading the way.

But what does this solar investment translate into? Jobs for Georgia. The Solar Foundation estimates that Georgia’s solar industry supported 2,600 jobs in 2013–a 225% increase from 2012!

This sudden growth of solar installments and jobs in Georgia is due to multiple elements including lower costs of installment, tax incentives, and action from the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC). Georgia Power recently confirmed their plan to build, own, and operate three separate 30 MW solar projects (for a total of 90 MW) to be installed at three army bases: Fort Stewart, Fort Benning and Fort Gordon. Georgia Power is also currently waiting for approval from the Georgia PSC for 10 new solar power projects resulting in another 515 MW of solar power. These low cost projects are part of the Advanced Solar Initiative which also includes the addition to nearly 150 MW of distributed solar to be installed between 2014-2016. And that’s not all: another 50 MW of utility-scale solar will be installed under Georgia Power’s Large-Scale Solar Initiative in 2015. Georgia will have gone from around 20 MW of solar in 2012 to nearly 900 MW by the end of 2016!

Meanwhile, neighboring southern states continue to lag behind–most notably, Florida. The ‘Sunshine State’ ranks 3rd nationally for rooftop solar potential, but ranked only 18th in the country for solar capacity added in 2013. Florida utilities are currently working to crush the solar industry in the state.

Increasing solar power in Georgia will continue to provide customers with low cost, clean electricity. Additionally, solar power can help the state to comply with EPA’s recently proposed Clean Power Plan, which will regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. Solar power, with no polluting air emissions, is a hugely important resource as the state continues to look for opportunities to lower CO2 emissions.

Pew’s report states that Georgia will continue to embrace the solar industry, projecting that solar generation will increase by 535 percent from 2014 to 2023 – Georgia’s (solar) energy future looks bright indeed!

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