US: Georgia Power’s solar initiative approved

The PSC unanimously approved the initiative, which will see Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Power, creating one of the U.S.’ largest voluntarily developed solar portfolios from an investor-owned utility.

To achieve its aim, the utility has said it will buy 60 MW of solar for the next two years. Projects between 1 and 20 MW in size will be chosen through a competitive request for proposal (RFP) program.

The remaining 90 MW will comprise solar energy bought from small-scale (under 100 kW) and medium projects (between 1 kW and 1 MW). It is hoped the Distributed Scale program will be up and running by 2013.

"RFPs for the Utility Scale program will be conducted in 2013 and 2014 and require commercial operation dates in 2015 and 2016. Georgia Power could begin signing solar contracts under the Distributed Scale program as early first quarter of 2013," said the utility in a statement released.

Currently, Georgia Power has 61.5 MW of solar in its portfolio. Overall, it serves 2.4 million customers in 155 of Georgia’s 159 counties.

Commenting on the news, Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association said, "Approval of the GPASI is a great first step towards Georgia meeting its full solar potential. We’re especially encouraged that the PSC and Georgia Power chose to add more distributed generation into this plan than what was originally proposed. This key addition will allow more families and businesses to go solar, while creating jobs throughout the state."

Originally, only up to 10 MW a year was planned to be bought from small and medium-sized projects.