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Friday, March 27, 2015 - 8:55pm

Plastic Bag Ban Defeated In House, Solar Panels Bill Headed To Deal

The Georgia House has rejected a bill preventing cities from banning plastic bags. But a bill allowing people in Georgia to finance solar panels the same way they borrow money for homes or lease cars is headed to Gov. Nathan Deal.

The House's 67-85 vote on Friday makes the plastic bag bill's future uncertain. The Senate approved an earlier version. Officials in several Georgia cities have considered banning plastic bags within their limits, including coastal Tybee Island where supporters argue that sea turtles sometimes mistake them for food.

Rep. Tom McCall, who carried the bill in the House, says local bans will create confusion and add costs to businesses while Rep. Trey Kelley criticized supporters as "extreme environmentalists."

Other Republicans who spoke against the bill called it a state overreach. Rep. Scot Turner told members that he wouldn't want such a ban in his city of Holly Springs but every community should make their own decision.

Meanwhile the Senate passed the solar panels bill unanimously Friday. The House already approved the legislation from Republican state Rep. Mike Dudgeon.

Residents buy electricity from monopoly utilities. By law, only utilities can sell electricity in their designated territories.

That law was written before the cost of solar panels fell, making it potentially economical to install them on homes and
businesses. But it was unclear whether companies that are not traditional utilities can finance or lease solar panels.

The bill permits agreements where a customer pays a nonutility based on the performance of solar panels. It doesn't alter Georgia's market for electricity.