Georgia’s solar energy policies leave much to be desired, says report

Solar panels

Study: Georgia really struggles when it comes to solar power

Most states in the U.S. South are known to have long, hot summers and abundant sunshine — and Georgia is no exception. Some might find it surprising, then, that a recent report listed Georgia as one of the worst solar energy states in the country.

According to a recent study by the Center for Biological Diversity titled Throwing Shade: 10 Sunny States Blocking Distributed Solar Development, Georgia’s solar energy policies leave a lot to be desired.

In theory, Georgia has a ton of solar power potential. On paper, it does, too. But, right now, the state trails the majority of U.S. states in this regard. As part of the study, the Center for Biological Diversity analyzed Georgia’s current solar output and also offered up recommendations on how the state could make immediate improvements.

The ten worst solar states in the U.S.

In the study, the Center for Biological Diversity highlighted regions that are “blocking distributed solar potential through overtly lacking and destructive distributed solar policy,” and targeted 10 states in particular — Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), that group of ten states owns more than a third (35 percent) of the total rooftop solar energy potential in the contiguous U.S., but accounts for just 6 percent of the total installed distributed solar capacity as of March 2016. The top ten solar states in the U.S., on the other hand, account for 86 percent of the total solar capacity in the U.S. So there’s big gap to fill and there are a lot of opportunities to fill that gap.

Georgia gets an “F”

Through in-depth research of existing solar-power policies within each U.S. state, the Center for Biological Diversity assigned a singular grade for each state. Georgia received a failing grade. It’s “F” was achieved, in large part, due to the big gap between the state’s solar potential and how much solar power it is actually able to produce right now.

According to the report, only nine states have more rooftop solar power potential that Georgia. For reference, the top three states as far as solar potential goes are California, Texas and Florida. But, despite having the 10th most potential in the U.S., Georgia has just the 21st highest install solar power capacity in the nation.

One of Georgia’s largest weaknesses in solar energy is its net metering policy. The state currently has one of the weakest net metering policies in the entire country.

Net metering is system in which owners of residential (usually rooftop) solar installations are compensated by state utilities for unused electrical power generated by their solar arrays. Currently, at least 43 U.S. states have net metering in place in some capacity.

That said, the Center for Biological Diversity recommended that the state strengthen its net metering program to make it more beneficial to homeowners. This will have the obvious effect of encouraging more residents to consider personal rooftop solar projects or take part in collective solar initiatives. Another recommendation involved the formulation of a community solar program and also the creation of a low-income financing program to help diversify access to residential solar in the state.

Source → Center for Biological Diversity