Solar in the Southeast: 2018 SunRisers (Part 2)

In the second post of our series following up on the release of SACE's 2018 "Solar in the Southeast" Report, we shed some light on old and new SunRisers, those utilities who rank prestigiously as showing the highest forecast growth in their solar ratio for our region. This year we recognize three utilities new to the list, joining four historical leaders.

Bryan Jacob | April 24, 2019 | Energy Policy, Solar, Utilities

Earlier this week, (on Earth Day, no less), Walton EMC (Electric Membership Corp) issued a press release lauding their top ranking on this year’s SunRisers list.

Each year SACE identifies the “SunRisers” in our region as the seven utilities that exhibit the highest forecast growth in watts per customer solar ratio over the next four years. In other words, this ranking recognizes utilities in our region with the highest levels of solar ambition.

In part 1 of this series, I explained that “We have some new entrants on this list of solar leaders. Walton EMC, FPL and Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) join four returning “SunRisers” demonstrating leading levels of planned solar growth over the next four years.”

2018 SunRisers:

Walton EMC (new to the list) “burst onto the SunRiser list by commissioning three major solar projects (202.5 MW total with two different developers) to serve a new Facebook datacenter in Georgia,” as explained in our Solar in the Southeast 2018 Annual Report (and in their own press release).

South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) was on the inaugural SunRisers list from last year and is already starting to fulfill that ambition. In 2017, SCE&G was below the region average for watts per customer but just a year later had nearly double the average for the Southeast. It now has the second highest W/C ratio of the large utilities (those with more than 500,000 customers). Most of the projected growth through 2022 represents exiting utility-scale contracts and remain certain even though SCE&G “is becoming” Dominion. The Energy Freedom Act presently awaiting a vote in the South Carolina Senate will ensure the trajectory of smaller, distributed solar, as well.

Duke Energy Progress (DEP) continues to dominate the Solar in the Southeast rankings. Not only is it comfortably atop the leaderboard for watts per customer in both 2018 and 2022, the rate of increase that DEP exhibits earns a return trip to the SunRiser list.

Tampa Electric (TECO) had committed to 600 MW of solar by 2021. This earned TECO a coveted spot on last year’s SunRiser list. Its solar expansion is underway — quadrupling from 37 W/C in 2017 to 157 W/C in 2018 — and combined with an ambitious forecast for 2022, remains a SunRiser.

Florida Power and Light (FPL) (new to the list) is the largest individual utility in the Southeast. They serve almost 5 million retail customers. Consequently it take a lot of solar to significantly increase their watts per customer solar ratio — and that’s precisely what they’re doing. FPL’s 30-by-30 plan to install 30 million solar panels by 2030 is the boldest 10-year solar commitment of any utility in the country. This will include 6,150 MW of solar between 2021-2028 and could increase with SolarTogether community solar program currently pending approval by the Florida Public Service Commission. If approved, this would be the largest community solar program in the country. All of this combines to earn FPL a slot on the SunRisers list.

Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) (new to the list) is the “anchor tenant” in a 223.5 MW project FMPA commissioned for 12 Florida municipal utilities. I previously profiled this announcement and that program helped propel OUC onto the SunRiser list for the first time.

Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) was on the SunRiser list last year after commissioning five, 50 MW solar projects for its service territory in northeast Florida. Those contracts are in place now and JEA remains among the utilities with the highest 4-year solar ambition in the Southeast.

Congratulations to our SunRisers, and let’s keep the momentum going!

Catch up on the entire “Solar in the Southeast” 2018 report series.
Read Part 1 of the “Solar in the Southeast” 2018 report.
Read Part 3 of the blog series, outlining the current and future utility leaders of the Southeast.
Read Part 4 of the blog series depicting SunBlockers in the Southeast.
Read Part 5 of the blog series, where we shine light on corporate leaders.
Watch the “Solar in the Southeast” webinar recorded on 4/16.



Bryan Jacob
Bryan joined the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy in June 2017. As Solar Program Director, Bryan leads activities to promote solar power across the Southeast. These activities range from conducting…
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