Representative Mike Dudgeon (R-Johns Creek) introduced HB 57, the Solar Power Free Market Financing Act of 2015, in Georgia’s General Assembly on Thursday, January 15. The bill, which SGR’s Steve O’Day worked closely with Rep. Dudgeon and others in developing language for the bill and in negotiating an agreement among the solar industry and Georgia’s 88 electric utilities, will clarify Georgia law to allow financing of solar systems for residences and businesses in which the payments for the system are based on the electricity produced. Georgia’s businesses and residents will be able to utilize the same kinds of free-market financing for solar systems available in over 20 other states in which the solar industry has rapidly expanded. The Georgia House of Representatives unanimously passed the bill on February 9, and if approved by the Georgia Senate and signed by the Governor, free-market financing for solar energy in Georgia could be available as soon as June 2015. The full text of the legislation can be found here.
Even without financing with payments based on the amount of electricity produced, solar power production makes Georgia one of the top solar producers in the nation. Between 2009 and 2013, Georgia attracted $666 million in private clean energy investment and is expected to attract $4.4 billion over the next decade. Solar power is the fastest-growing renewable energy technology in Georgia, projected to increase by 535% between 2014 and 2023. Georgia solar energy installations represented 3% of all clean energy investments in the U.S. in 2013. Georgia ranked 7th in the nation in new solar capacity in 2013; 7th in the nation in private investment in solar; 15th in total solar capacity; 16th in solar jobs (2,600); and 21st in homes powered by solar energy. Those statistics are without the explosive growth in distributed solar energy development—installation of solar systems onsite for the users of the electricity, be they residential or business premises—expected to occur if HB 57 becomes law.
For more information on solar energy development in Georgia and elsewhere, contact Steve O’Day.