Last Friday, the Georgia Senate unanimously approved HB 57, the Georgia Solar Power Free Market Financing Act of 2015. Sponsored by Representative Mike Dudgeon, R-Johns Creek, the Act now moves to the desk of Governor Nathan Deal for signature. SGR’s Steve O’Day has worked with diverse groups in drafting, negotiating and supporting solar free market financing legislation for six years. His work with Jason Rooks of the Georgia Solar Energy Industries Association and lawyers for Georgia Power Company and Georgia’s 51 Electric Membership Cooperatives and 49 municipal electric authorities in negotiating the language of many of the law’s provisions was instrumental in obtaining the backing of Georgia’s utilities and other groups for passage of the legislation.
If signed by the Governor, HB 57 will establish a free market in Georgia for financing of onsite solar systems. Third party solar companies will be able to finance and own solar systems installed on the premises of Georgia homes and businesses and base the payments for the systems on the electricity produced by the systems. Although similar free markets for financing solar systems have been successfully creating jobs and providing power in states in other areas of the country for many years, the Georgia General Assembly is the first state legislature in the Southeast to explicitly authorize the arrangements, known under HB 57 as Solar Energy Procurement Agreements (SEPAs). The law will become effective upon signature by Governor Deal.
By passing this legislation, Georgia’s legislators open a free market for one of the fastest growing industries in the country—solar power. Under the legislation, Georgia homeowners and businesses will be able to acquire solar panels to power their homes and businesses with little or no upfront cost, and pay for the systems by paying for the electricity generated by the free solar fuel that shines on Georgia every day. The SEPAs, though similar to arrangements in use in other states, were tailored to fit the unique characteristics of energy markets in Georgia, and therefore have specific requirements and restrictions in order to qualify for the legislative authorization under the law. Those requirements are designed to allow any property owner in Georgia to satisfy his, her or its full electricity demand through an onsite solar system.
The press release of the Georgia Property Rights Council on the passage of HB 57 can be viewed here. Steve O’Day serves on the Board of the Council.
For more information, and for details about how to qualify for the free market financing authorized under HB 57, contact Steve O’Day.