Georgia’s Solar Energy Program: One Year In, Only Five Sign Ups

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Craig Boudreau Vice Reporter
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An Atlanta-based utility company started a rooftop solar campaign aimed at enticing consumers to install the panels on their homes, and one year later, they have only seen 5 sign ups.

The Atlanta-based Georgia Power (GP) serves all but four of Georgia’s 159 counties, has 2.45 million customers and is ranked as the fifth largest utility company by number of customers served. In the one year the Georgia Power Rooftop Solar Service program has been running, Georgia Power has received about 10,000 inquiries (via an online survey), which translated into only about 800 consultations (with a Georgia Power solar specialist) and of those 800 consultations, only five have decided to go ahead and install the panels, according to Greentech Media.

“We’re listening [to customers] and we want to be part of the solution,” Kim Greene, chief operating officer and executive vice president at Southern Company (Georgia Powers parent company) said at the Edison Electric Institute annual convention in Chicago last week, “but right now, on-site solar is something folks just aren’t willing to commit to.”

Georgia has been a tough sell for solar so far. Greentech Media says only 273 solar systems have been installed in GP’s territory. For reference, a list compiled by Nerd Wallet ranks all states using four parameters: average monthly electric bill, economic incentives to go solar, availability of sunlight, and existing capacity for solar in a given state. Using these parameters, Nerd Wallet ranked Georgia 32 out of 50 with a score of 22.5, while the top state, California, received a score of 56.

Solar Power Rocks (SPR) put together a report card for all 50 states regarding their solar policies, Georgia received an F.

SPR explained the low rating: “Georgia lacks many of the sensible solar policies that are steadily becoming the norm across the nation, including a strong Renewables Portfolio Standard, tax exemptions for renewable energy sources like residential solar power systems, and strong net metering and interconnection laws that lay out sufficient standards to protect consumers like you.”

Part of the problem for GP is the fact they do not offer net metering — a policy in which power companies actually pay consumers for any excess power their solar panels generate.

“Net metering is necessary for establishing a stable market,” Susan Glick, senior manager of public policy at Sunrun Inc. and spokeswoman for the Alliance for Solar Choice told E&E news in May of 2015.

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