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Thursday, August 27, 2009 - 9:02am

Ga. Power Buys More Solar

People who want to sell solar energy from the panels they put on their homes can now sell more of it back to the state's largest energy provider Georgia Power. That came out of the last meeting of the Public Service Commission which regulates the industry. But officials say the problem is nobody’s buying the energy.

Only 4,400 customers of Georgia Power's 2.3 million have signed up for the Green Power program that gets energy from landfill-gases and solar. It’s been around for three years, and after mounting pressure from environmental groups and customers who want to sell more solar… the PSC has ordered the utility to triple the amount it purchases.

Company officials say the limit exists because the non-profit program is designed to break even and solar is expensive. The going rate is up to 18 cents per kilowatt hour, compared to coal’s 3 cents.

Commissioner Stan Wise says in order for the program to grow, the energy needs to be sold, so he’s ordered Georgia Power to strengthen its marketing. "There needs to be a concerted effort to market the product, because if it’s not being sold, it really defeats the purpose of expanding the program in the state."

Environmental groups say they’re not encouraging members to subscribe because only 10 percent of the energy is from solar; the rest comes from gas from garbage… and they’re not completely sold that’s the best renewable resource.