On December 20, after months of hearings, the Georgia Public Service Commission — the agency that regulates Georgia Power Company — approved a $1.8 billion settlement that provides for three bill increases over the next three years while also taking a sledgehammer to a popular pilot program that helped 5,000 Georgia homes and businesses put solar panels on their roofs.

 

The unanimous vote by the state’s Public Service Commission to sharply reduce payments to solar customers in the program by over 50% comes after months of controversy and many rounds of expert testimony on unsubstantiated “cost shift” arguments by the Company — essentially shifting the blame for cost increases and overruns onto customers who choose to install rooftop solar. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) and Southface Institute experts debunked the Company’s assertions, showing how rooftop solar can benefit all customers through lower system operating costs, reduced air pollution, job creation, and economic development.

 

We recommended the Company be required to continue the prior program over the next three years while conducting a cost-of-service study to quantify costs and benefits for all ratepayers. The Commission approved a drastic reduction in compensation under the program, a mere four cents per kWh on top of avoided cost (~$0.06 per kWh), despite the fact that 33 states currently compensate rooftop solar at full retail price (~$0.12 per kWh).

 

The arbitrary rate approved by the Commission today for rooftop solar is a result of back-room settlement negotiations; not a single expert in the case recommended the rate included in the final settlement. The agreement ensures that Georgia Power customers will continue to have some of the highest electricity bills in the nation and — at a time of rising energy costs and historic inflation — will cement Georgia’s ranking as one of the worst states for rooftop solar (43rd in the U.S.), preventing many Georgians from leveraging 30% federal investment tax credits and blocking access for low- and moderate-income families who want to take control of their power bills.

 

In response, SACE and Southface Institute provided the following statement:

 

“The Georgia Public Service Commission missed a unique opportunity to chart a lower-cost future for Georgians. The Commission’s fact-free approach allows the Company to continue to ignore customers who want to invest their own money in low-cost resources like rooftop solar. It does little to nothing to help hard-working families and leaves customers on the hook for unaffordable and escalating power bills.”

 

About the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Since 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has worked to promote responsible and equitable energy choices to ensure clean, safe and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at cleanenergy.org.

 

About Southface Institute

Southface Institute is a sustainable building nonprofit formed in 1978 that strengthens equity and the environment by transforming residential and commercial structures at every stage of the building lifecycle. Join Southface in building sustainably for life at www.southface.org.

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