The state of Georgia has been crazy for coal for quite some time, but that’s about to change. Thanks to the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC), the newest, greenest Integrated Resource Plan (or IRP) has been approved, which will essentially double solar energy production. This means that if you’re following the Georgia solar market, the sun just got brighter because solar is on their mind.
The Integrated Resource Plan is a proposal that is put forward every three years by Georgia Power, the largest investor-owned utility company in the state. Basically, it’s a long-term plan detailing what energy resources will be used in the upcoming years. Utility regulators review the proposed power plan before it’s implemented.
This year, Georgia Power’s IRP doubles the amount of renewable energy the company currently generates, mostly from Georgia solar farms. It more than doubles the current generation capacity the company has from their solar power installations, from 1,000 MW to 2,210 MW of utility scale solar. Originally, it was stipulated at just 1,650 MW, but PSC Chairman Bubba McDonald called for the increase. Even better, it met with unanimous agreement by all members of the PSC. When completed, solar power in Georgia will provide enough electricity for 200,000 homes.
Chairman McDonald stated, “I determined Georgia has the ability to add significantly more renewable energy and solar energy using a market based approach without any upward pressure on the rate papers and no state subsidies. Solar… will give Georgians clean, renewable energy for years to come.” He also mentioned the financial benefits of investing in Georgia solar farms. “It’s one of the cleanest and cheapest generations (sources) we can have.”
PSC Vice-Chairman Tim Echols also discussed how this is the perfect time to further Georgia’s solar capacity. With the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit, the cost of solar installations can be reduced up to 30%, an incentive that Georgia’s PSC is smart to take advantage of. And on top of all of this, the PSC also voted to end operations at five coal-fired units in the state.
According to Georgia Power, this will cut the company’s coal-fired generation down by a substantial amount. Adrienne Tickle, media relations representative with the company, said “We are projecting that by the end of 2019… we will have approximately 1,730 MW. With today’s addition, Georgia Power will… grow its renewable energy generation by more than 72% to 5,390 MW by 2024, and increase the company’s total renewable capacity to 22% of its already diverse portfolio.”
It seems obvious that energy efficiency is on this big utility’s mind, and in Georgia, solar power is about to be on the forefront of electricity generation. And it’s thanks to the foresight of the Georgia Public Service Commission. It’s only a matter of time when other utility companies and residents make the switch to clean, green, Georgia solar power as well.