Despite soaring demand for solar capacity amongst Georgia residents, a majority of the Georgia Public Service Commissioners voted against expanding a popular solar program that filled up with 5,000 participants in under two years. In addition, the PSC approved Georgia Power buying over 2300 megawatts of new gas capacity contracts, even as skyrocketing gas prices demonstrate methane’s extreme volatility.
Commissioner Tim Echols made a motion to expand the highly successful solar program but only received the support of Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, whereas three commissioners voted against the suggested improvements. Commissioners will have another opportunity to expand the popular rooftop solar program in Georgia Power’s rate case, underway now.
Today’s vote marks the conclusion of a six-month proceeding before the Georgia Public Service Commission evaluating Georgia Power’s Integrated Resource Plan. The process effectively sets out a roadmap for Georgia’s energy future. Partnership for Southern Equity, Georgia Interfaith Power & Light, and the Southern Environmental Law Center intervened in the process and advocated for expanding a popular net metering program for rooftop solar customers, ramping up Georgia Power’s energy efficiency offerings, and reducing our reliance on gas and coal resources.
“At a time when families across the state already facing the strain of record-breaking inflation and financial uncertainty, the Commission failed to expand bill-saving clean energy opportunities for struggling Georgians,” said Joel Alvarado, Vice President of Strategy and Engagement at Partnership for Southern Equity. “We are disappointed, but the fight continues. We are turning our attention to the Georgia Power rate case where we will combat rising electric bills and forced reliance on our monopoly utility.”
“Despite strong public support for expanding net metering for rooftop solar customers, a majority of commissioners voted down Commissioner Echols’ motion to expand the program,” said Codi Norred, Executive Director for Georgia Interfaith Power and Light. “We know that more solar makes sense for Georgia and we’ve seen its tremendous success at the utility scale. Our faith communities will continue to fight for similar progress when it comes to rooftop solar.”
“Now more than ever, Georgians need more control over their electric bills. Georgia Power is asking the Commission to increase monthly electric bills by nearly $15 per month for residential customers in its rate case, underway now. And that will be the first of several big hits for customers – next year customers will likely see steep bill increases due to sky-high gas prices and ballooning costs from the Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion project,” says Jill Kysor, Senior Attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “Despite strong support from intervenors and the public for greater access to rooftop solar, which give customers greater control over energy usage and electric bills, a majority of the commissioners voted against expanding the program in the resource planning proceeding. We hope the Commission will reopen its popular net metering program in Georgia Power’s ongoing rate case.”