Company Asks Georgia PSC to Bring Solar to Coal Plant Communities

Georgia Power Company recently presented their 20-year energy plan to the PSC.

ATLANTA - Tuesday and Wednesday, the Georgia Public Service Commission and its staff heard testimony from Georgia Solar Utilities about the company's proposal to increase the amount of solar energy in Georgia Power Company's 20-year energy plan.

"We asked the Commissioners to deploy solar energy farms to rural counties that are scheduled to lose their coal and oil-fired power plants," said Robert E. Green, CEO of Georgia Solar Utilities.

Georgia Power Company recently presented their 20-year energy plan to the PSC. In the plan, the company provided no new solar resources for Georgia ratepayers. Tom Fanning, CEO. of the Southern Company (Georgia Power's parent company), said at a recent Atlanta Press Club appearance that "renewables are going to remain a niche for some time."

In its written testimony to the PSC, Georgia Solar Utilities requested 500 megawatts -- enough to power 200,000 homes -- to be deployed to areas that are being economically-impacted by coal-plant closures.

During the public phase of the IRP proceedings, several citizens and representatives from areas affected by coal plant closures provided public comment on this solar plan.

Representative Rusty Kidd said "We're losing Plant Harllee Branch in the months to come and a significant portion of Putnam's tax revenues may be lost -- several million dollars annual to be exact. This is a concern that I share with all of the communities facing the same dilemma."

Tea Party Patriot state coordinator Debbie Dooley said, "I commend the Commission for considering plans for new solar investments that avoid the use of state subsidies, don't require Vogtle-style "financing" risks and leads to ratepayers benefiting long term."

University of Georgia junior Tyler Faby said, "I would like to request of the Commission in this Integrated Resource Plan to consider allowing new solar investments to be installed into the UGA grid, helping us meet our 10% renewable energy targets."

"We feel that it would send a strong message to students all over the country that UGA is prepared for the 21st century economy," said Faby, who is also a member of a student committee tasked with replacing coal-fired boilers with newer sources of energy.

During his testimony, Robert E. Green said: "We have a unique window of opportunity to use historically-low interest rates in the bond market to install solar energy farms that will provide long-term stability in energy rates.

"Zero future fuel costs means additional savings to future generations. Through our plan, hundreds of millions of dollars in investments will be provided to local communities and hundreds of new jobs will be created."

Georgia Public Service Commission Tim Echols echoed Green's call for more solar. "We've got to change our thinking on renewables," Echols said.

The Georgia Public Service Commission will hear final testimony from Georgia Power lawyers in June on the merits of changes to the Integrated Resource Plan, with a final vote to take place in July.

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