New Utility Solar Projects Signal Strong Growth for Solar in Georgia
(APN) ATLANTA — Georgia Power plans to build, own, and operate three separate 30 megawatts (MW) of solar generated energy at three U.S. Army bases, to create a total of 90 MW of renewable solar energy.
The new solar facilities are at Fort Benning near Columbus, Fort Stewart near Savannah, and Fort Gordon near Augusta.
Georgia is one of the fastest growing solar markets in the nation and Georgia Power expects to have more than 900 MW of solar capacity online by the end of 2016.
In addition to the new solar projects with the US. Army, Georgia Power anticipates more than 500 new solar projects will be brought on line in the coming years through existing solar programs.
Georgia Power’s Advanced Solar Initiative (ASI) has two parts: the first was started in 2012, and the second proposed and approved by the Public Service Commission (PSC) in 2013.
“If you are a small, medium, or large size developer, and you want to build solar and sell us the power, there are ways to do it. This is everything from putting it on a residential rooftop, to a big commercial building, over a parking lot, and up to a utility scale of 200 acres of solar panels,” John Kraft, Georgia Power, Spokesperson told Atlanta Progressive News.
“All the solar developers competed and put in offers and the winning projects will be owned by another party but they will sell the power to Georgia Power with long-term contracts,” Kraft told APN.
There are currently more than 167 solar companies at work in Georgia, investing 189 million dollars to install solar homes and businesses, and employing so-far almost 3,000, according to Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
Some notable solar installations in Georgia includes Simon Solar Farm and Richland Solar Center.
Simon Solar Farm has the capacity to generate 30 MW of electricity. That is enough to power over 2,800 homes. The facility has more than 100,000 solar panels on 125 acres and is located near Social Circle, Georgia.
Dominion Energy has recently bought Richland Solar Center from HelioSage Energy. It is located in Twiggs County near Jeffersonville, Georgia. The facility can generate 20 MW of solar energy and is expected to enter service in the fourth quarter of 2015. Dominion has secured a twenty year power purchase agreement and interconnection agreement with Georgia Power.
Solar power is in its infancy in Georgia but since the General Assembly passed the Solar Power Financing Bill, HB 57, the solar industry is expected to explode.
As previously reported by APN, this bill will allow – for the first time – Georgia homeowners, businesses, and schools to enter into financing arrangement for the installation of solar panels instead of having to pay all the money up front. The new law requires excess energy to be sold back to Georgia Power.