Residents of Georgia are asking Georgia Power Company to increase the amount of solar energy in its 20 year plan. Last week, Georgia Public Service Commission and its staff heard testimony from Robert E. Green, CEO of Georgia Solar Utilities, asking the Commissioners to deploy solar energy farms to rural counties that are scheduled to lose their coal and oil-fired power plants.
In its written testimony to the PSC, Georgia Solar Utilities requested 500 megawatts — enough to power 200,000 homes — to be deployed to areas that are being economically-impacted by coal-plant closures.
Georgia Power Company recently presented their 20-year energy plan to the PSC. In the plan, the company provided no new solar resources for Georgia ratepayers. Tom Fanning, CEO of the Southern Company (Georgia Power’s parent company), said at a recent Atlanta Press Club appearance that “renewables are going to remain a niche for some time.” However Tim Echols with the Georgia Public Service Commission said, “We’ve got to change our thinking on renewables.”
“We’re losing Plant Harllee Branch in the months to come and a significant portion of Putnam’s tax revenues may be lost — several million dollars annual to be exact. This is a concern that I share with all of the communities facing the same dilemma,” said Representative Rusty Kidd, who along with many others have testified during the public phase.
During his testimony, Robert E. Green noted, “We have a unique window of opportunity to use historically-low interest rates in the bond market to install solar energy farms that will provide long-term stability in energy rates. Zero future fuel costs means additional savings to future generations. Through our plan, hundreds of millions of dollars in investments will be provided to local communities and hundreds of new jobs will be created.”
The Georgia Public Service Commission will hear final testimony from Georgia Power lawyers in June on the merits of changes to the Integrated Resource Plan, with a final vote to take place in July.