Georgia solar association calls for Georgia Power to add 4 GW of near-term solar

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Georgia’s Public Service Commission should direct Georgia Power to increase its near-term solar target to 4 GW, up from 2.3 GW as the company proposed in its resource plan, said Georgia’s solar trade association GASEIA and allies in joint testimony to the state’s Public Service Commission.

That’s because when Georgia Power ran its planning model with higher natural gas prices, the amount of solar the model added to the system “increased substantially,” the groups said. State regulators should recognize “the real possibility that the era of sustained, low natural gas prices may be ending.”

The groups said regulators should also uncap through 2025 the utility’s program for rooftop solar. The 5,000 customer cap has been reached, they said, calling that value a “rounding error” compared to the utility’s 2.3 million residential customers. They also challenged the utility’s claim of cost shifting, saying that it “rests on an assumption that Georgia Power is owed a certain amount of revenue, and any shortfall in that revenue must be made up from someone else. That is patently false.”

The groups reported a “history of missed procurement targets” for distributed resources planned in previous resource plans. They said regulators should direct Georgia Power to include 300 MW of distributed generation in its near-term solar plans, and should reject the utility’s community solar program, which they said needs a “complete redesign.”

The national Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) joined GASEIA in the joint testimony, along with advocacy group Vote Solar.

Kevin Lucas, senior director of utility regulation and policy at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), testified that Georgia Power assigned solar and storage “much lower” capacity values than the company found in its own studies, and “failed” to model hybrid solar and storage projects. Regulators should direct Georgia Power to procure solar-plus-storage projects, the groups said, rather than standalone storage, to save money on both project and interconnection costs.

The Southern Renewable Energy Association, an industry-led initiative, filed expert testimony from Michael Goggin, vice president at Grid Strategies LLC, saying that Georgia Power overstated the cost of solar in its modeling, and did not recognize most of the system benefits of storage. The group agreed with SEIA’s expert that Georgia Power understated the capacity value of renewables and storage, adding that the utility also overstated the capacity value of gas. The group said regulators should “reject” the utility’s attempts to limit competition and increase its profits by owning all new battery storage.

The advocacy group Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the service group Southface Energy Institute pointed to “flaws” in Georgia Power’s resource planning, in testimony from consultant Ronald Binz. The utility used a “limit source” solicitation instead of an “all source” solicitation, and chose an “inappropriate” baseline scenario in terms of future carbon prices and future costs of natural gas, Binz testified. Regulators should direct the utility to make specific improvements to its next resource plan in 2025, he said. The groups filed separate testimony on energy efficiency and demand response as grid resources.

Georgia Power serves customers in 155 of the state’s 159 counties.

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