Senator Jason Anavitarte of Georgia sponsored SB 210, a bill to expand net metering and community solar in the state. The bill has met strong support from the Georgia Solar Energy Industries Association (GASEIA).
The bill, called the Georgia Homegrown Solar Act of 2023, would raise the state’s net metering cap from 0.2% of annual peak demand to 5%, giving a wider set of homeowners the opportunity to reap the benefits of a net-metered rooftop solar installation. The bill also includes a 20-year grandfathering right to customers who adopt a net metering agreement.
Residential systems eligible for net metering are expanded from 10 kW to 15 kW. Non-residential customer eligibility would change from 100 kW to 125% of maximum annual peak demand. The bill would also allow for a $20 monthly fixed charge for utilities to attach to solar customers but includes language to prevent other discriminatory fees against solar customers.
Senate Bill 210 also enables tax-exempt organizations like nonprofits, churches, and government entities to aggregate electricity demand from multiple locations. These organizations can subscribe to off-site solar facilities 3 MW or less in size.
The bill also has consumer protection provisions, requiring utilities to transparently report energy usage details. Meter readings must be provided “in electronic machine-readable form, without additional charge” and such access “shall be provided in 15-minute intervals or the shortest interval available through existing meters.” Utilities would be required to keep at least 24 months of meter usage data for each customer account.
GASEIA president Pete Corbett said following major legislation in 2013 and 2015, Georgia has had remarkable growth in the solar industry. It ranks within the top ten states for solar deployment with over 4.5 GW of capacity installed through Q3 2022.
“Senate Bill 210 seeks to build upon these strong measures by improving the community solar market and updating net metering provisions in law,” said Corbett.
This bill has been introduced in the wake of a December 2022 decision by the Public Service Commission (PSC) to raise electric rates, maintain the low cap for net metering, and impose a $100 interconnection fee for new customers.
The PSC decided on a 6.68 cents per kWh net metering export rate for major utility Georgia Power and kept the hard cap of only 5,000 customers allowed to access net metering. While previous customers would receive a credit on their bill for exported solar energy, under the new rule, customers will have to pay their full electric bill first, and subsequently receive payment for their contribution to the grid separately.
“The Commissioners had all the information and data they needed to expand the pilot monthly netting program and spur Georgia’s rooftop solar market, but they simply chose not to do so,” said Kevin Lucas, senior director of policy for the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Lucas said the decision “will keep the state’s rooftop solar sector mired at the bottom of the national rankings.”
At the time of the decision, Allison Kvien, southeast regulatory director at Vote Solar said, “As we begin a new legislative session in a few short weeks, we’ll be looking to state legislators to take real action and make Georgia a place where people have the ability and the real, economic option to manage their energy bills through rooftop solar adoption.”
Senate Bill 210, if passed, would offer some of the benefits Kvien and other industry and public advocates seek.
For more on Georgia’s solar incentives, read “50 states of solar incentives: Georgia“.
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