On Thursday, July 11th the state of Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) will take a vote on Georgia Power’s proposed Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) which lays the road map for providing electricity to Georgians over the next 20 years.
While Georgia Power has already agreed to add 270 megawatts (MW) of solar energy to its system, its latest plan does not propose adding any more solar to the generation mix. One of the biggest issues in the IRP — which is revised and voted on every three years — is the utility’s intention to retire 16 coal- and oil-fired power-generating units at six power plants. The revision, which will retire approximately 2,100 MW of generating resources, has been driven by Georgia Power’s efforts to comply with new federal air pollution rules called the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). Georgia Power is asking to switch six coal units to natural gas to take advantage of low prices.
Commenting on public demand for Georgia Power to utilize more solar energy, Georgia Watch’s Liz Coyle stated, “A number of people testified before the commission that they thought that 270 [megawatts of solar power] is one thing, but Georgia easily should be able to have, as part of its energy mix, 2,000 megawatts of solar.”
Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald Jr. wants a vote on a plan requiring Georgia Power to add another 525 megawatts of solar energy. And according to a recent AP report, a political group founded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch wants Georgia’s utility regulators to reject that plan.
We encourage readers and supporters of more solar in Georgia to contact PSC members and voice a concern to revise Georgia Power’s IRP to include solar energy generation. Here are some facts you can include in your communications:
- More solar in Georgia means more jobs in Georgia. As the solar industry grows, so does its impact on the economy. According to The Solar Foundation’s Solar Job Census 2012, there are more than 119,000 solar workers in the U.S., a 13.2 percent increase over employment totals in 2011. These workers are employed at 5,600 businesses operating at over 6,500 locations in every state. The increasing value of solar installations has injected life into the U.S. economy as well. In 2012, solar electric installations were valued at $11.5 billion, compared to $8.6 billion and $6 billion in 2010.
- An investment in solar is an investment in environmental protection. Solar PV uses less water than any other energy resource. That’s a good thing, because conventional power production uses vast amounts of our country’s precious fresh water resources. According to researchers at the Virginia Water Resources Research Center fossil-fuel-fired thermoelectric power plants consume more than 500 billion liters of fresh water per day in the United States. (Sources: CEC PIER Advanced Generation Program, Water Use for Electricity Generation, Aug, 2009. IEEE Spectrum)
- An investment in solar is an investment in public health. Solar energy and other renewable energy resources have the potential to power the vast majority of our energy supply. A transition to renewables would dramatically reduce our dependence on coal, which would mean a reduction in air pollution that contributes to serious health problems in the U.S. (Source: Environmental Defense Fund)
- Solar power plants are now competitively priced with new coal and natural gas plants. Utility contracts for solar power are being signed in the U.S. at prices competitive with new coal and natural gas plants and well below the cost of new nuclear. Utilities in California, the nation’s largest solar market, have secured contracts for over 4.4 gigawatts (GW) of solar at prices below new natural gas generation. (Source: Vote Solar analysis)
- U.S. investment in solar lags far behind spending on conventional energy resources. Federal incentives going to the oil & gas industry have averaged $4.86 billion annually for 100 years, and nuclear has averaged $3.5 billion for 50 years. Meanwhile annual support for all renewables including solar has averaged only $370 million for just the past 15 years. (Source: DBL Investors & AWEA)
- Most importantly, solar panel prices are at historic lows. Solar power plants can now be created in Georgia without state subsidies. The PSC should take advantage of this opportunity to get the best deal for ratepayers.
Solar Energy USA encourages readers and supporters of more solar in Georgia to contact PSC members and voice a concern to revise Georgia Power’s IRP to include solar energy generation.
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