ATLANTA – Today, Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center released Lighting the Way, a new report highlighting a solar energy boom across the country. The report outlines the twelve states that have made a considerable contribution to the nation’s rise in solar power. Georgia, however, missed the cut and ranks 23rd in the nation for per capita solar installations. But, Georgia should not be written off yet, in the past year the Georgia Public Service Commission has voted to expand Georgia’s solar market by over 700 MW.
Last year, solar capacity in Georgia grew by 44%, bringing it to a total of 25 Megawatts. But Georgia still trails behind leading solar states such as Arizona and New Jersey that have more than 56 and 36, respectively, times as many solar installations per capita than Georgia has.
“The sky’s the limit on solar energy,” said Jennette Gayer, Advocate with Environment Georgia. “The solar leaders in our country have shown that if you want your state to be a leader in pollution-free solar energy, set big goals and get good policies on the books—the good news is Georgia has taken a huge step in the right direction.”
Solar is on the rise across the country and Georgia is no exception, the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) on July 11, 2013 voted three to two in favor of an amendment by Commissioner Lauren "Bubba" McDonald (District 4) to add 525 Megawatts of solar energy to Georgia Power’s energy portfolio by 2016 in addition to the 260 Megawatts they voted to add in 2010.
"This is the Perfect Storm for Solar in Georgia with technology having advanced, interest rates favorable, panel prices down 40% in the last two years and Georgia being in the top five states for Solar deployment,” Commissioner McDonald.
America has more than three times as much solar photovoltaic capacity as it did in 2010, and more than 10 times as much as it did in 2007. The price of solar panels fell by 26 percent in 2012. Environment Georgia attributed the solar boom to the leadership of state officials.
“Georgia's Solar Businesses are ramping up in a big way,” said Pete Marte, President of Hannah Solar. "Making Georgia a solar leader means more local jobs and more home grown energy—first place, here we come!"
The solar leaders identified in the report include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina and Vermont.
While these 12 states account for only 28 percent of the U.S. population, they make up 85 percent of the nation’s installed solar energy.
The report emphasizes that it is not availability of sunlight that makes states solar leaders, but the degree to which state and local governments have created effective public policy for the development of the solar industry. It highlights the strong policies adopted by the top solar states that encourage homeowners and businesses to “go solar.” Most notably:
- 11 of the 12 have strong net metering policies, which allow customers to offset their electric bills with onsite solar and receive reliable and fair compensation for the excess electricity they provide to the grid.
- 11 of the 12 states have renewable electricity standards, requiring utilities to provide a minimum amount of their power from renewable sources; and nine of them have solar carve outs, which set specific targets for solar or other forms of clean onsite power.
- 10 of the 12 have strong statewide interconnection policies. Interconnection policies reduce the time and hassle required for individuals and companies to connect solar energy systems to the grid.
- The majority of the top solar states allow for creative financing options such as third-party power purchase agreements and property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing.
“Georgia has taken a big step but so are other states around the country, to compete we’ll need to continue to push for more solar advances,” said Gayer.
Environment Georgia called on municipal leaders, like Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed, to adopt big solar goals and look for smart local policies that could encourage even more solar deployment and maximize the growth of local solar on homes and businesses.