Contact: Tim Alborg
Georgia Power: No Solar for Next 20 Years
Solar industry representatives asked Georgia Power why they had no additional solar resources in their plan. Shane Owl-Greason from Georgia Solar Utilities, Inc. said that while the solar industry was interested in working with Georgia Power to create additional economic opportunities and jobs for the state with additional solar projects, it didn’t appear from its filings with the Public Service Commission that the Company had the same interests.
“It’s troubling that left to its own devices, Georgia Power has no plan for more solar energy in our state beyond their current plans which will, after full deployment, supply less than 1% of customers' energy from solar,” Owl-Greason said. “We want to make sure that ratepayers benefit from using our greatest natural resource, sunlight, leading to lower electric rates due to sunlight being a no-cost fuel. This is the Commission’s opportunity to insure ratepayers and Georgia don’t miss this boat.”
Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald noted that Georgia Power’s parent company Southern Company was buying solar energy from states like California.
“These jobs and these taxes are going to go to California,” McDonald said. “From this commissioner’s standpoint, that’s very disappointing.”
October 9, 2012 – by Georgia Solar Utilities, Inc. (GaSU) Executive Team
October 3, Nick Coltrain quoted Paul Bowers, President/CEO of GA Power (GPC), in Online Athens, http://onlineathens.com/local-news/2012-10-03/renewable-push-not-cards-ga-power “Renewable (energy sources are) going to have a sliver,” Bowers said of fuels to create electricity. “Is it going to be 2 or 4 percent? That's yet to be determined. Economics will drive that. But you always remember (that renewable energy is) an intermittent resource. It's not one you can depend on 100 percent of the time.”
Bower’s ‘sliver’ is an echo of Tom Fanning’s, CEO of Southern Co, June 8th interview with the Wall Street Journal in which he referred to solar as a ‘niche’. Bowers and Fanning make these claims while Germany, with 65 million people, produced 50% of the entire national electric demand on the grid for several hours using 22,000 Mega Watts (MW) of installed solar panels. Germany started building solar 3 years ago. GPC finally asked to build 210 MW’s in the next 3 years in a way ratepayers derive no value. 50% of a nation’s power demand from Germany’s weaker sunshine is not the niche or a sliver Fanning and Bowers describe!
Technology has delivered a real prize to the world. Solar has become a natural resource like coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy. All four are highly prized natural resources by states and nations for their ability to produce the power that drives our modern world. Solar energy took the world’s stage as a fifth major natural resource 3 years ago.
Bower’s points out solar is intermittent, but he fails to mention it did not stop Germany from extracting 50% of the national demand from solar. Fanning’s and Bower’s comments continue to show a profound misunderstanding of what solar technology is doing around the world. GPC’s earlier claims “it is too cloudy in GA for solar” were wrong. The truth is GA has always been a top 5 state nationally. The cloudy claim caused GaSU’s assertion that GPC had forfeited the leadership role in developing solar energy. The ‘sliver and niche’ comments remove all doubt.
The fact is solar energy is so abundant in Georgia that the economic value to this state is staggering, but is being wasted. The National Renewable Energy Lab (the only federal laboratory dedicated to the development, commercialization and deployment of renewable energy) recently calculated the sun delivers 3,000,000 MW’s of free solar fuel to Georgia 28% of the time. GA Power’s generation capacity is 15,000 MW’s 100% of the time! Adopting GaSU’s plan to develop just 2,000 MW’s of solar energy brings billions of dollars in benefits to GA.
With all the recent achievements in the solar industry, the management of Southern and GPC continue to deny the obvious. They insist on solar being a sliver or niche because solar can replace 30% of their coal being burned today. Solar energy’s downward pressure on electric rates opposes GPC’s mission of generating the most expensive electricity legally possible. So GPC is trying to claim rights to GA’s natural resource - sunlight. But the ‘best interests of ratepayers’ are in play at the GA PSC and GPC’s claim is now in question.
Further, the Territorial Rights Act does not deliver an exclusive claim to GPC for the development of Georgia’s solar resource. Yet GPC has succeeded for years to deny meaningful development of a natural resource that will generate billions of dollars in GA’s economy, good jobs, enterprise values, and energy savings.
In light of Bowers and Fanning’s statements, can ratepayers trust GPC to produce meaningful solar development and rate reductions? The solution is to ask the GA PSC to approve GaSU’s cutting-edge plan to create some needed competition in Georgia and begin the development of solar energy that will deliver permanent ‘downward pressure’ on electric rates! See GaSU’s petition (Docket # 36286) GA PSC.
Atlanta (Georgia), September 26, 2012.—Georgia Solar Utility, Inc. (GaSU) a Georgia company has proposed plans to deploy 2GW of clean energy within the next four years to diversify the state’s energy portfolio and to let ratepayers benefit from the profits created through solar power.
Prepared by:GaSU Executive Team
Company Name:Georgia Solar Utilities, Inc. (GaSU)
State of Business: Georgia
August 30, 2012
On October 18, 2011 a PSC Commissioner stated, “Technology and the market have brought us a remarkable turn of events and one that the Commission should explore immediately. Solar prices today give Georgia an outstanding opportunity to supplement our fossil and nuclear power sources while creating good jobs and immediately assist in Georgia's recovery.”
The principals of GA Solar Utilities Inc. (GaSU) have been intricately involved in solar energy analyses across the US, including Georgia. With Georgia being the 3rd best for the external sale of solar energy and 5th best for the direct use of solar energy (https://asunews.asu.edu/20101122_business_solarrankings), the principals of GaSU have known that the day will come when technology and the marketplace will demand the deployment of solar in Georgia. That day is NOW!
GaSU principals started with the initial development and financial analysis for Simon Solar's 30MW Farm in Social Circle, GA. After a successful GA PSC notice-in, Simon Solar's 30MW's joined GA Power's 50MW Large Scale Solar (LSS) opportunity under a solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). GA Power agreed to purchase the power from the owners of the systems for 20 years. Even though the PPA payment is sufficient to pay for the solar array, PPA’s do not deliver the asset of the solar array to GA Power, only the electricity for a the PPA term. This is NOT necessarily in the ratepayers' best interest. PPA's are designed to benefit investors.
Reacting to the October 18 PSC call to explore solar technology for its best opportunity, the principals of GaSU began development of a 90 MW array. Full ownership of the solar array would go to GA Power with total capital investment paid for by the end of a 20 year period. Because solar energy is NOT accompanied with fuel-costs, the project would have allowed GA Power to generate solar power at an inexpensive rate which could be blended back into the base to lower ratepayers' future cost of energy. In May 2012 after land and bond financing was secured by GaSU's principals, GA Power declined to take advantage of the opportunity.
However, the remarkable turn of events regarding solar continued to exist. GaSU was formed to bring these benefits to the State of Georgia and ratepayers. GaSU modified GA Power analysis to reflect new assumptions for a company that mirrored the structure and rights of a monopoly on utility-scale solar power. The new company would fill the void that GA Power had been unable and unwilling to address. GaSU’s primary mission would be to harvest the right amount of solar energy to optimize the electric grid and open a solar energy market in Georgia.
The financial results of a 2 GW solar analysis of a solar monopoly were enlightening. The rights of a solar monopoly allowed a more organized and effective way to build less expensive solar farms that could be the foundation of a complete distributed generation system. The results also showed costs that are inherent in centralized, electric generation were avoided. Allowing for the maintenance costs that will maintain energy production, the avoided costs are over $10 billion in 40 years. These avoided costs can be returned to ratepayers over time.
The assumptions used corrected the financial problems that accompany PPA’s, Feed In Tariff’s (FIT) and the demands of private investment. Through the use of corporate debt supported by ratepayers, which is a way GA Power finances their power generation facilities, financing costs are lowered significantly. Include the use of the enhanced production of advanced solar technology in combination with Georgia's solar potential, GaSU proved not only is solar in the best interest of ratepayers, but achieved grid parity and more. Today solar has become competitive with conventional power generation and becomes more competitive over time.
Today, the results of the analysis made by Georgia Solar Utilities, Inc. (GaSU) were presented to the Energy Committee of the Georgia Public Service Commission so they could begin to take action. Properly structured, technology and the market have made a unique opportunity available to the ratepayers of GA.
GaSU has and will continue to shine a light on Georgia's energy future!