Georgia Builds on Clean Energy Momentum with Commission’s Vote
Atlanta, GA— The Public Service Commission today maintained Georgia’s momentum toward a clean energy future in its final decision approving Georgia Power Company’s long term energy plan.
The decision adds new solar generation while leaving work to do on promoting small-scale and consumer solar. The final decision also takes important steps to bring energy saving benefits to disadvantaged communities.
The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) represented Southface Energy Institute (Southface) and Georgia Interfaith Power and Light (GIPL) in the proceedings on Georgia Power’s 2016 integrated resource plan (IRP) for meeting customers’ energy needs over the next 20 years.
Over several months of hearings, the groups advocated for greater investments in solar, improvements in Georgia Power’s valuation of solar and other renewables, fair compensation for rooftop solar customers, and greater energy efficiency measures, including programs to better serve low-income customers.
Georgia Power’s filing in January acknowledged the need to prepare for a future in which there will be limits on carbon emissions from power production. Today’s decision takes important steps in that direction, building on Georgia’s emergence as a national clean energy leader. The decision includes:
- Approval of up to 1.6 GW of new renewable energy resources – a large portion of which will likely be solar. This nearly triples Georgia Power’s initial proposal, which called for 525 MW, the same amount approved in the last IRP. The renewable resource additions are enough to power about 250,000 homes.
- A commitment to direct at least $1.5 million toward energy savings measures in low-income multi-family housing.
- A requirement for Georgia Power to develop and present a new program for serving the needs of low-income customers, who are among the most burdened by high energy bills.
- A requirement for Georgia Power to develop a whole building data access program. This will allow owners of commercial and multi-family buildings to measure and manage their building’s energy performance, which will in turn unleash substantial, market-driven energy savings.
“We applaud the Commission for taking us further in the direction of a clean energy future for Georgia,” said SELC Senior Attorney Kurt Ebersbach. “Today's decision continues positive momentum that has already been beneficial to our economy and our air while lowering carbon emissions.”
“We are pleased with the Commission's support for expanding Georgia Power's renewable energy program but regret a missed opportunity,” said Lisa Bianchi-Fossati, Director of Policy at Southface. “Rooftop solar customers in Georgia who send some of the power they generate to the grid are not currently fairly compensated for the valuable and clean energy they produce. We appreciate the effort of Commissioners McDonald and Echols to support such a program under this IRP and look forward to addressing this issue in the future.”
“The energy efficiency programs approved by the Commission today allows more Georgians to realize achievable energy savings,” said Rev. Kate McGregor Mosley, Executive Director of GIPL. “As a faith-based organization, this issue is deeply important to us, as it offers support to our low-income citizens, for whom utility bills can constitute a substantial share of monthly income. No one should have to choose between keeping the lights on and putting food on the table.”
About Southern Environmental Law Center:
The Southern Environmental Law Center is a regional nonprofit using the power of the law to protect the health and environment of the Southeast (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama). Founded in 1986, SELC's team of nearly 60 legal and policy experts represent more than 100 partner groups on issues of climate change and energy, air and water quality, forests, the coast and wetlands, transportation, and land use. www.SouthernEnvironment.org
Southface inspires market-based solutions at the nexus of the natural, social and built environments. Since 1978 Southface has served as the Southeast's nonprofit leader in promoting sustainable homes, workplaces and communities through education, research, advocacy and technical assistance. Learn more at www.southface.org.
About Georgia Interfaith Power and Light:
Georgia Interfaith Power & Light is a state-wide interfaith ministry that in response to climate change and environmental injustice engages communities of faith in stewardship of Creation through worship, education, and the sustainable generation and efficient use of energy. GIPL’s goal is to help people of faith recognize and fulfill their responsibility for the stewardship of creation. www.gipl.org