Georgia is a late comer to the solar game, but the state has arrived in a big way. After being forced to engage by pro-solar Republicans on the state’s utility commission, Georgia Power began commissioning hundreds of megawatts of solar, which brought the state into the top 10 of solar markets as early as 2013, and Georgia was the third-largest market last year with over 1 GW installed.
However, Georgia’s rural electric cooperatives are also getting in on the game. As early as 2001 a group of cooperatives got together to form Green Power EMC, a company to buy power from renewable energy facilities, which back them was largely biomass and hydro.
Today Green Power EMC announced that it has struck a deal with Silicon Ranch for the developer to build four PV plants totaling 200 MW-AC to supply cheap power to 38 of its member cooperatives. Silicon Ranch will develop, fund, build own and operate the projects, and Green Power EMC will buy all the power they generate.
The timeline for these projects is not exactly ambitious, as they are not expected online until 2020. However, the partnership between Green Power EMC has already put online 72 MW-AC of solar in two projects in Jeff Davis County.
This strategy of co-ops banding together to procure power is nothing new, however Silicon Ranch says that it brings significant benefits. “Green Power EMC has developed a procurement strategy that allows its member co-ops to capture tremendous value,” says Silicon Ranch President and CEO Matt Kisber. “By banding together, they are able to leverage economies of scale, resulting in an extremely low cost of energy for their members.”
As a result of the success of this strategy, the Smart Electric Power Association (SEPA) named Green Power EMC its 2016 Electric Cooperative Utility of the Year last September. Additionally Green Power EMC member Cobb EMC placed 8th in the nation among utilities for installed solar capacity on a per-capita basis, with 639 watts of solar per customer.
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Not one EMC member was given a chance to supply solar energy to any EMC. Over the life of this project, Silicon Ranch will extract a tremendous amount of money from the citizens of GA and not one of them had a chance to offer their services so the money from the solar energy stayed in the county in which it was generated.
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