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Monday, September 5, 2011 - 8:08am

Georgia Power Expands Solar Investment

Georgia Power is taking bids for a project that will generate enough solar energy to power 20,000 homes. It’s the company’s largest solar undertaking.

The Public Service Commission charged Georgia Power to expand its solar investment earlier this year.

The move comes after years of complaints the company wasn’t doing enough with solar while expanding nuclear.

Georgia Power spokesperson Lynn Wallace says solar is now more financially feasible.

"The cost has come down pretty significantly on solar for sure," says Wallace, "and our policy has always been we’ll purchase renewable but we’ll only pay a voided cost... we won’t pay more because we don’t want to put upward pressure on rates."

The company will start accepting on-line applications Wednesday from private companies for the up to 50 megawatt program.

"Provided we have applicants that meet our criteria, we should be moving forward and signing contracts December of this year," says Wallace. "Now the actual solar, the resource wouldn’t go online until June of 2015."

When it does, it will be part of everyone’s rates.

Georgia Power's current program buys just four megawatts of solar energy, and only customers who opt in pay for it.

Wallace says if the new project does increase rates, it will do so by no more than five cents a month per customer.

Meanwhile, the company is looking for a suitable site for its own one megawatt solar project.