US: Georgia ups the ante on solar investment

Despite ranking 23rd among all U.S. states for solar installations per capita, Georgia is set to become one of America’s leading producers of solar power thanks to recent positive action by the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC).

In July, the PSC approved a plan to add 525 MW of solar generation – enough to power more than 48,000 homes – to the portfolio of Georgia Power Co.

The Atlanta-based company is the largest utility provider in the state, and will have until 2016 to incorporate this additional solar capacity online, according to a report released by Environment Georgia’s Research & Policy Center.

The 525 MW threshold is more than double that installed by Colorado, which is currently ranked fifth in U.S. state solar production – behind national leaders Arizona and California.

"The sky’s the limit on solar energy," remarked Jennette Gayer, policy advocate for Environment Georgia. "The solar leaders in our country have shown that if you want your state to be a leader in pollution-free solar energy, set big goals and get good policies on the books… Georgia has taken a huge step in the right direction."

Georgia’s appetite for solar power appears insatiable. Last year, the state grew its solar power capacity by 44%, which – as the fourth-largest consumer of energy in the U.S. – represents a significant development for the industry as a whole.

However, the PSC confirms that it will not impose upon Georgia a mandate requiring utilities to generate a minimum amount of their power from renewable sources. Currently, such impositions are in force in 11 of the top 12 solar energy-producing states, according to the report.