by Dave Williams
ATLANTA 1/28/14 — Georgia property owners would be able to contract directly with solar energy installers to finance the installation of solar panels under legislation introduced in the General Assembly Tuesday.
The bill would let property owners lease solar panels instead of having to buy them with cash up front, said Georgia Rep. Mike Dudgeon, R-Johns Creek, the bill’s sponsor.
“We want to make it clear that you can use whatever financing is available to finance your solar panel,” Dudgeon said.
Previous attempts by other lawmakers to grow Georgia’s solar industry by opening the market to third party financing have failed to gain headway in the General Assembly.
Read the whole article: Atlanta Business Chronicle
by John Schwartz
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. 1/25/14 — In conservative politics, solar power is often dismissed as an affectation, part of a liberal agenda to funnel money to “solar cronies” of the Obama administration and further the “global warming hoax.”
So one would not expect to see Barry Goldwater Jr., the very picture of modern conservatism and son of the 1964 Republican nominee for president, arguing passionately on behalf of solar energy customers. But there he was last fall, very publicly opposing a push by Arizona’s biggest utility to charge as much as $100 a month to people who put solar panels on their roofs.
The utilities, backed by conservative business interests, argue that solar users who have lower power bills because of government subsidies are not paying their fair share to maintain the power grid. Mr. Goldwater and other advocates have struck back by calling the proposed fees a “solar tax,” and have pushed their message in ads on Fox News and the Drudge Report.
Similar conflicts are going on in California and Colorado, with many more to come. And as the issue pops up, conservatives are even joining forces with environmental groups. In Georgia, a Tea Party activist and the Sierra Club formed a “Green Tea Coalition.”
Read the whole article: The New York Times
by Ray Henry
ATLANTA (AP) 1/25/14 — Badly outnumbered regulators in Georgia want to hire two more employees to keep tabs on the $14 billion project to build a first-of-its-kind nuclear plant.
Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power says its share of the project to build Plant Vogtle (VOH’-gohl) is projected to go hundreds of millions of dollars over budget. Its 2.4 million customers will pay for the company’s building costs unless regulators force the utility to take losses on questionable spending.
Now the chairman of the Public Service Commission, Chuck Eaton, is asking state lawmakers for roughly $180,000 to fund two more employees to carefully track utility spending and construction efforts. The information those monitors gather will be crucial if regulators ultimately want to block Georgia Power from billing its customers for at least some of the project’s increasing cost.
Regulators are at a disadvantage when contending with Georgia Power, a monopoly that owns a 46 percent stake in the nuclear plant.
Read the whole article: SFGate
by Kennedy Maize
Washington, D.C., January 21, 2014 – Sorry, I confess I just don’t get it. Why is the Department of Energy still negotiating with the Southern Company for a below-market loan to finish construction of two more units at Georgia Power’s Vogtle nuclear plant?
The utility says it will go it alone if the Obama administration doesn’t come through with a loan of $8.3 billion (for what is now a $15.5 billion project). Indeed, construction is going forward on the project, and it appears to be on schedule. So why should Uncle Sam subsidize the project?
Let ’em go. If the Southern Co, doesn’t need the money, that’s great. Go for it, Southern.
The only answer I’ve seen so far is that without the federal largess, local customers will pay more for electricity. So Southern Co., Municipal Energy Agency of Georgia, Oglethorpe Power Corp., and the city of Dalton want federal taxpayers to subsidize Georgia electric customers. Huh? Again, I don’t get it.
Read the whole article: Powernews
by Bob Farquhar
MACON 1/13/14 — Joe Hubbard’s Dec. 24 letter “Citizens pay the cost” brings to mind one profit-enhancing scheme of Southern Company most people are unaware of. CWIP, or Construction Work In Progress, is a fee levied on electric customers to finance the construction costs of two unproven nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro. Georgia Power bills show “Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery” for the 7.6 percent that ratepayers have been forking over since 2009 when the Georgia Legislature and Public Service Commission approved CWIP. So far about $1.5 billion has been collected. CWIP reduces Southern Company’s financial risk for construction, passing it on to ratepayers.