It's unanimous: Georgia Senate votes to end ban on 3rd-party PV financing

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Georgia’s Senate today unanimously approved legislation to end the state’s current ban on third-party financing for residential and commercial solar electric systems. After passing in the House of Representatives in February, House Bill 57 now heads to Governor Nathan Deal, who has 40 days to sign the bill into law.

Georgia is one of only five U.S. states that do not allow property owners and businesses to take advantage of popular third-party financial products such as leases, loans and power-purchase agreements. Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina and Oklahoma also do not allow third-party financing.

Specifically, HB 57, The Free-Market Solar Financing Act of 2015, amends the Official Code of Georgia “to provide for financing of solar technology by retail electric customers for the generation of electric energy to be used on and by property owned or occupied by such customers or to be fed back to the electric service provider.”

The bill limits capacity to 10 kW for residential systems and caps commercial system capacity at 125% of a site’s power use.

If signed by Gov. Deal, the measure could create a new market for on-site solar in a state with more than 10 million residents and 2.1 million single-family homes, and benefit third-party financing specialists such as SolarCity, the largest U.S. solar installer. Analysts at Raymond James estimate the state’s addressable market for residential PV alone to be around 10.5 GW.

“It’s going to open up the market and give consumers more ways to meet their energy needs,” Billy Kirkland, a spokesman for advocacy group Georgians for Solar Freedom, told pv magazine. “There are some great opportunities to create jobs and put Georgia at the forefront.”

The state’s largest utility, Georgia Power, a subsidiary of investor-owned utility Southern Company, also supports the bill.