by Lyle Harris
Georgia Power is likely to get another shot-in-the-arm after announcing plans to complete construction on those ill-fated nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro.
A more appropriate response to this epic boondoggle, of course, would be a swift kick in the pants. But don’t count on it.
The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) has scheduled hearings on November 6 to discuss the troubled project, Along with the Southern Company (Georgia Power’s corporate parent) and the smaller utilities that are partners on the Plant Vogtle expansion, there’s little reason to worry about some silly old hearings. While the PSC is ostensibly charged with balancing the interests of the utility with those of its customers, the scales are reliably tipped in Georgia Power’s favor.
The planned reactors at Plant Vogtle were supposed to be up and running by now but they’re only about one-third complete. A series of major snafus and setbacks (including the bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric which designed and was building the reactors) has increased chances that Georgia households will be picking up more of the tab.
by David Pendered
ATLANTA 3/21/16 — As Georgia Power proposes to expand its use of renewable energy resources, one part of the conversation that gets scant attention is the considerable amount of energy already being generated from renewable resources.
All told, Georgia Power expects to have nearly 1,000 megawatts of solar resources online or under contract by the end of this year, company spokesman John Kraft said Monday.
Six percent of Georgia’s electricity generation comes from renewable resources, including hydroelectric power, according to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Residential rates are 17.3 percent lower than the U.S. average, according to the EIA.
by Jim Thompson
ATHENS 3/18/16 — The sun may be starting to shine on solar as a viable alternative energy, but cost and scale continue to be issues, according to a panel brought together Thursday night in Winterville to discuss the solar energy industry.
Drew Bowen of Watkinsville-based Turnsol Energy, a solar energy installation company he operates along with Drew Bowen Electric, a traditional electrical installation firm, told a crowd at the Winterville Depot that a few years ago, solar energy conferences he attended were popular among a core group of jeans-wearing advocates. Now, he said, those conferences are attracting “three-piece suits and tassel loafers … There’s money in solar.”
by Jim Thompson
ATHENS 3/17/16 — Solarize Athens, an initiative to triple the number of solar power installations across Athens-Clarke, Madison and Oconee counties through the bulk purchase of equipment and installation services, has extended its application deadline to April 30.
Colleen McLoughlin, solar campaign organizer for Environment Georgia, one of the environmental groups behind Solarize Athens, said ongoing local interest in the program prompted Solarize Athens to extend the deadline by a month, to give more homeowners and business owners an opportunity to consider installing solar power equipment.
by Russell Grantham
ATLANTA 2/13/16 — Renewable fuels are poised to grow from a footnote into a small but meaningful part of the picture at Georgia’s biggest electric utility.
By 2020 solar, wind, biomass and hydro will account for 10 percent of Georgia Power’s fuel mix, according to a new long-term plan the company recently filed with state regulators. That’s up from about 7 percent this year, or just 2 percent not counting hydro. In 2005, non-hydro renewables were not even counted in the mix.
Critics say the pace is still too slow. And at least one questions the utility’s overall goal of boosting its capacity buffer — the extra juice it could generate during a severe heat wave or power outages — at a time when demand has been flattened by slower economic growth and better efficiency.
Decatur Self Storage’s array of solar cells Photograph by David Tulis — AP
7/7/15 — An unlikely political alliance in the Peach State has produced a big spike in solar projects.
Green employment in the U.S. is tiny, but it keeps picking up steam. In the first three months of 2015, about 40 new renewable energy and clean transportation projects were launched in 19 states, creating more than 9,800 jobs.
That’s not many, but it’s almost double the number created in the first quarter last year, notes a new report from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), a nonprofit, nonpartisan business group that tracks green employment. Solar power openings grew the most, adding about 6,600 jobs nationwide — about 2,000 of them from five new projects in Georgia.
by Gloria Tatum
ATLANTA 6/26/15 — July 01, 2015, is going to be a big day. The Solar Power Free-Market Financing Act, HB 57, sponsored by State Rep. Mike Dudgeon (R-Johns Creek), will go into effect, thus opening up solar panel options for Georgia residents and businesses.
On the same day, Georgia Power is planning to announce that one of its unregulated subsidiaries is going to get into the solar panel installation business.
BUTLER 6/24/15 — Southern Power bought the 20-megawatt Butler Solar Farm from Strata Solar, bringing its total solar generation development in the Peach State to more than 400 megawatts.
The unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co. (NYSE: SO) did not disclose financial terms.
The latest acquisition will be on 150 acres in Taylor County, Ga., about one mile from the previously acquired 103-megawatt Butler Solar Facility. The Butler Solar Farm is expected to enter commercial operation in the fourth quarter of 2015. It will use more than 263,000 of First Solar Inc.’s thin-film photovoltaic solar modules.
by Walter C. Jones
ATLANTA 1/13/15 — Georgia homeowners, churches and small businesses might soon have access to the financing needed to install solar panels with little upfront costs thanks to an agreement announced Tuesday during a state legislative hearing.
Coming up with thousands of dollars needed to install photovoltaic panels on the average home is difficult for most homeowners. But if the agreement discussed Tuesday becomes law, homeowners could lease their roofs to companies that pay them back with free electricity while selling the rest to the utilities.
by Ivan Penn
TAMPA 1/13/15 — Imagine the Christian Coalition and the tea party joining hands with liberals and environmentalists.
Add to the Kumbaya moment Libertarians and Florida’s retail business federation.
They all plan to unite this morning for a news conference in Tallahassee about their campaign to allow those in Florida who generate electricity from the sun to sell that power directly to other consumers. Right now, that’s illegal here.
The coalition, which has dubbed itself Floridians for Solar Choice, has crafted a petition that was approved for circulation last month. They’ll need 683,149 signatures by Feb. 1, 2016, to get the question on the ballot for the 2016 election.
For some it’s ideological. For others, such as the retailers, it’s pure economics.