Georgia regulators approve 515 MW of solar PPAs

Regulators in the U.S. state of Georgia have approved power purchase agreements (PPAs) between developers and Georgia Power for ten solar PV projects totaling 515 MW. These projects are all part of the utility’s Advanced Solar Initiative (ASI) and ASI Prime programs.

These projects represent a changing environment for solar in the state, where Georgia Power parent company Southern Company had resisted PV for years. The utility began to change its approach in 2012 when Georgia Power launched the ASI, with a goal to acquire 210 MW of solar PV.

In mid-2013 the Georgia Public Service Commission, backed by a coalition of right-wing activists and environmentalists, required Georgia Power to build an additional 525 MW of new PV.

A press statement announcing the approval of the PPAs shows an attempt to distance the state’s approach to solar PV from other regions where solar has been successfully deployed.

“Georgia is doing solar different than California, Arizona and Germany with our emphasis on utility scale projects,” Commissioner Tim Echols is quoted as saying in the release. “We didn’t subsidize nor require power companies to reach some lofty percentage of generation—and as a result the market will actually put downward pressure on rates.”

Six of the ten new projects, totaling 439 MW, are in the ASI-Prime portfolio and hold 30-year PPAs. These are expected to be online by the end of 2015 or 2016. The additional four totaling 77 MW are contracted through the ASI and hold 20-year PPAs. These are expected to be online by the end of 2015.

In addition to the 515 MW, the PSC approved a project between Georgia Power and the U.S. Navy to build a 30 MW PV plant on a naval base in the state. This plant is scheduled to come online in 2016.