Sustainable Georgia Roundup
Solar Power Surges: Increasingly, solar power is becoming a viable energy option in the Peach State. According to a report by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), Georgia ranked second in the Southeast in solar power with 1,222 megawatts (MW) in 2017, outpaced only by North Carolina. While California continues to lead the nation in solar output, Georgia’s current solar watts-per- customer level is higher than average in the Southeast.
Much of the evolution of the state’s solar power is the result of the Public Service Commission’s 2012 direction to Georgia Power to develop an Advanced Solar Initiative (ASI). This program is designed to spur economic growth within Georgia’s solar community. Typically, Georgia Power purchases the power generated by the solar projects through long-term agreements.
Six years later, new solar investments are occurring regularly. The largest solar power plant in the Southeast is slated to be built in Twiggs County near Warner Robins. Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar Inc. will develop and construct the 200MW plant on 2,000 acres. The project will begin later this year and is expected to create 300 to 400 jobs before the plant’s 2019 completion.
In Augusta, the Planning Commission has approved development of a 2.27MW solar installation on 13 acres that will help the city diversify its energy mix. And in nearby Columbia County, a request has been filed for a similar farm where 5,238 solar modules would be constructed on 15 acres of land.
Both initiatives are spearheaded by Atlanta-based SolAmerica Energy, which has completed seven solar projects totaling 4.6MW in the Georgia communities of Milledgeville, Quitman, Claxton, Oglethorpe, Shellman and LaGrange.
SACE believes solar growth will continue in the state and throughout the Southeast despite the 30-percent tariff on imported solar panels recently imposed by the Trump administration.