Despite Real Solar Progress New Report Shows Florida Utilities Still Have Work To Do

Guest Blog | February 27, 2018 | Press Releases

While some individual utilities are leading, Florida continues to fall below average compared to other states in the Southeast

Contact: Jennifer Rennicks, SACE, 865-235-1448, [email protected]

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy held a telephone press conference at 11 am ET, Tuesday, February 27 to address any media questions on the report. A recording of the call can be found here.

Speakers Included:

Dr. Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Bryan Jacob, Solar Program Director, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

John D. Wilson, Research Director, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy


Atlanta, GA – As solar energy development continues to expand in the Southeast, increasing almost 30 fold over the last five years, the growth patterns remain varied depending on specific location. The Solar in the Southeast 2017 Annual Report from Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) was released today, highlighting solar data and trends throughout the region, including Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Using the metric “watts-per-customer,” which looks at the amount of installed solar relative to the total number of customers served, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy offers a unique analysis, with detailed information at the regional, state, and utility level. The watts-per-customer metric provides an unbiased standard by which utilities and states can be compared and contrasted.

The “Sunshine State” was slow to engage in utility scale solar and has consequently fallen behind other states in the region. Due to strong net metering rule, Florida has been a strong regional leader in residential solar for the past 5 years and has seen the rooftop market further accelerate following two ballot initiatives in 2016. SACE is now forecasting more than 735 MW of distributed solar in Florida by 2021. Florida continues to close the gap in utility scale solar as well with a current path to 4 gigawatts (GW) of total solar (including both rooftop and utility scale) by 2021 due to major announcements of utility-scale solar development in 2017 from Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric Company, and JEA. However, when these announcements are analyzed using the watts-per-customer metric, Florida Power & Light will be below the regional utility average by 2021, and the state as a whole will remain below the Southeast state average as well (see graph below).

Current and Forecasted Utility Solar Leaders

Duke Energy Progress, Duke Energy Carolinas, and Georgia Power are the region’s current solar leaders based on the 2017 watts per customer ranking. Looking forward, the report calls out seven utilities with the highest forecasted solar growth by 2021. Duke Energy Progress and Georgia Power both make this list, as well, along with South Carolina Electric and Gas, Tampa Electric, Duke Energy Florida, Jacksonville Electric Authority, and City of Tallahassee. These utilities each serve more than 100,000 customers and are noted in the report as “SunRisers,” due to their ambitious levels of planned solar growth.

Current and Forecasted Utility Solar Laggards

In contrast to the “Sunrisers”, the report also identifies three major utility systems – Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Santee Cooper, and Seminole Electric Cooperative – as laggards, or “SunBlockers,” who steadfastly stick with outdated plans for low levels of solar development over the next four years. For example, Seminole opened a very small (2.2 MW) Cooperative Solar project adjacent to one of their fossil-fueled plants in 2017 and only offered a vague reference to future purchase agreements for solar in the context of announcing a new gas-fired generating plant.

Policy Focus

Leading states like North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia have enacted strong policies that foster and encourage renewable energy growth. On the other hand, utilities in other Southeastern states – particularly Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi – continue to operate in a public policy vacuum, while Florida falls somewhere in the middle with some good policies but a lot of catching up to do. The slow pace of solar growth and the outdated thinking by utilities leaves Florida as a whole with solar projections below the regional average through 2021.

“We are encouraged to see that the Sunshine State is moving in a positive direction as whole, with major announcement from some of the utilities, including ones of a smaller size that are emerging as regional leaders such as the City of Tallahassee,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Unfortunately, Florida continues to perform below the regional average. As highlighted by our watts per customer analyses, it is crucial that utilities continue to grow their solar commitments to better match the sheer number of customers that they serve with the solar their customers want.”



About Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Founded in 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that work to address the impacts of global climate change and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at