Georgia has not done the best of the US states in adopting solar power. At the same time, it has installed about 138 MW, so it ranks 15th nationally. The state’s utility, Georgia Power, has not been very open to renewable energy, even though Georgia has very strong solar potential. Up until now, it seems most of this potential has been wasted.
However, at a policy level, there has been some movement to apply pressure to Georgia Power to adopt more solar. Georgia is a conservative state, so there has been a resistance to disrupting the main utilities’ reliance on fossil fuels. However, the dramatic drop in solar power prices has made even a resistant utility begin to embrace it more.
Georgia Power is looking for approval of 525 MW from 10 new solar power plants. The average price of electricity for some of the proposed solar projects from developers was 6.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. (That’s really low!) The huge increase of over 500 MW would more than triple Georgia’s current solar power capacity. It would also do so at lower prices than have been bid at previously. Adding another 500 MW of solar power would create a number of new jobs for the construction phase of the projects, so there would be some impact economically.
Georgia is a conservative state, but some local conservatives are for renewable energy, because they see potential to reduce American reliance on foreign oil. In other words, it’s a national security issue to them. In fact, an organization called the Green Tea Coalition has sprung up to voice conservative support for solar power. It has a group page on Facebook.
A member explained in a Grist article, “In Georgia, we have one company controlling all of the electricity production, which means consumers have no say in what kind of power they must buy. A solar company could not start up and offer clean power to customers because of restrictions in state law.”
Dooley is from Georgia, so she is advocating for more solar power in her home state, but she is also trying to increase it in Florida.
Florida obviously has very strong solar potential like Georgia does, but it too has suffered from political hostility and gridlock. If Georgia greatly increases it’s solar capacity, will Florida follow suit?