Georgia reaches accord on renewable cost-benefit framework

Georgia Power and Georgia’s Public Service Commission (PSC) issued a joint recommendation on how to evaluate solar’s value to the grid on Dec. 2.

The recommendation comes after staff members from both organizations had worked since August to design a Renewable Cost Benefit Framework (RCB Framework) to determine what factors should define the value of renewable energy projects, including solar, within the state’s Renewable Energy Development Initiative.

Modifications to the RCB Framework include considering additional charges for distributed solar resources to account for transmission and distribution losses as applicable in the cost modeling for solar resources.

It also suggests changing the way the economic carry charge (ECC) — the extra costs associated with distributed solar resources, including insurance, storage, interest charges on borrowed funds, and other related costs — is calculated.

Instead of using a 20-year transmission study to develop a 30-year component value, the new framework will average the annual ECC value of the last 10 years through year 21. For the final nine years, average value will continue to increase according to Georgia Power’s Transmission Capital Cost Escalator.

The recommendation also designates where the parties will get the data to include in the RCB Framework calculations. For distributed solar, the framework will use data from the Electric Power Research Institute’s (EPRI) Distributed PV (DPV) Project because such data is mapped and weighted.

Furthermore, the data will be “smoothed” according to the published methods of Sandia Labs and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Additionally, utility-scale solar will be evaluated on the same data on the existing commitments of Georgia Power. It will be “smoothed” consistent with fixed-tilt and single-axis tracking as applicable. The evaluation criteria will not apply to behind-the-meter solar technologies.

Georgia’s joint recommendation comes as utilities around the country grapple with the question of how to accommodate increased solar development on the grid. Fixed charges and demand charges are under consideration in multiple jurisdictions, and the joint recommendation in Georgia is yet another attempt to find the answer to this pressing question.

The PSC still has to approve the recommendation. No schedule for a final decision has been announced.