As a region, the U.S. South has not fully taken advantage of its solar power resources. However, this is starting to change. North Carolina has become a nationwide leader in solar power with companies like Cypress Creek developing large volumes of PURPA projects. Conversely, Florida is a laggard with monopoly powered utilities playing politics – but it is trying hard as residential solar power is doubling last year, solar leasing is coming to the state, and companies like NextEra subsidiary FPL building some serious volume.
Georgia Power can be seen as representing both of these trends. As a subsidiary of power giant Southern Company, the utility is deeply wedded to fossil fuels and nuclear power, but has been deploying large-scale solar since 2011.
In 2016 Georgia Power set a goal of installing 1.6 GW of renewable energy by 2021. Currently, the company has installed 970 MW, and it looks like at least 649 MW more will come online before the end of 2019, putting it two full years ahead of its goals.
As of last Wednesday, July 26, Georgia Power is accepting applications for the bids via an online portal. The bids for small scale distributed solar generation – ranging in system sizes from 1 kW through 3 MW – are due by August 15.
The program was approved as part of a 2016 Georgia Public Service Commission Integrated Resource Plan. The goal is for the 100 MW of projects to be connected to the grid before the end of 2019, which will be easier for the smaller projects.
Now that the state has the nation’s largest solar power module assembly facility with a 1.6 GW annual capacity and Jacksonville is getting a 400 MW / year plant, maybe the South will finally take its rightful place as a national destination for solar.