Some in the solar industry have said they are poised for an economic boom after the Public Service Commission’s decision Thursday to require Georgia Power to use more solar energy in its 20 year plan.
“It’s a watershed moment for, I think, solar in general in the state and for the industry,” explained Mark Bell, Chair of the Georgia Solar Energy Association and President of Empower Energy Technology, a solar design and installation company.
The PSC voted that Georgia Power must include an additional 525 Megawatts (MW) of solar energy in its 2013 Integrated Resource Plan, or IRP. The company must add 260 MW by 2015 and the remaining 265 MW by 2016.
Commissioner Stan Wise opposed the decision. He argued requiring Georgia Power to use more solar could raise costs for rate payers. Bell, however, said the decision will have far-reaching economic impacts on the state.
“I think it’s a very good sign for the local companies based here in Atlanta who are in the solar business, not just integrators, but manufacturers and complete value chain—financiers, attorneys, there are a number of folks who can participate in this program,” said Bell.
Georgia Solar Utilities President Robert Green was a proponent of the plan. He hopes his company will distribute solar energy to Georgia Power.
“It will be competitive,” said Green, who said Georgia Solar Utilities must now focus on readying a bid to provide solar. “It’s just putting focus on getting ready to begin to have the opportunity to compete for the work.”
Green said his company is prepared to submit a proposal to Georgia Power in the coming months. Georgia Power, however, may not be ready to request bids by then.
John Kraft, a spokesperson for the company, said they have just begun reviewing proposals for their Advanced Solar Initiative, which the PSC approved in November 2012. Under that program, Georgia Power will add 210 MW of solar power to its grid by January 2015.
Kraft explained that the additional Megawatts approved by the PSC will likely follow a similar process and timeline.