solar power shines on Georgia

solar power shines on GeorgiaGoing solar? Good call. It’s the right choice for your pocketbook and for the climate. If everyone in Georgia used solar power, it would take 132 billion pounds of carbon out of the atmosphere every year—according to the EPA’s greenhouse gas calculator, that’s the equivalent of planting a forest that would cover all of the state.

Solar power is a growing part of the energy mix in Georgia. Nationally, the state ranks #23 in solar energy use.

Solar Energy Pros And Cons

The biggest advantage of solar energy? The cost—$0. For the average Georgia household, generating all their own electricity with solar would save $1,610/year. Also, you’re doing a favor for the next generation. Instead of relying on coal and natural gas plants, which produce most of Georgia’s electricity, you’ll be producing your own clean, renewable energy. In Georgia, residential customers like you account for 26.1% of the state’s total energy consumption.

The disadvantages: The cost of installation. The average solar installation costs around $20,000. Incentives like the U.S. Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit can bring the overall cost down. Check with your local government about financing, as Georgia permits them to offer low-interest loans for energy efficiency projects.

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need For My Home?

The average Georgia family uses 38,400 watts of energy on an average day. And, on average, they’ll get 5.5 hours of sweet Georgia sun each day. So, to get enough energy to keep the power running all night, they’ll need their solar power array to generate 6,982 watts of energy per hour while the sun’s out.

Assuming they go with 250-watt solar panels, the math is simple. 6,982 watts/hour divided by 250 watts/panel = 28 panels needed.

To figure out exactly what you’d need based on where you live in Georgia—and how much money you’d save—use this solar savings calculator:

Solar Trends In Georgia

Georgia is one of the best Southern states for solar, but could do more to increase its installation and generation.

Georgia Solar Policy

Like most states, Georgia allows its utilities to provide net metering—but it does not require it. Net metering deducts the value of energy that property owners generate from their utility bill, and credits them any excess power generation they send to the grid. Instead of net metering, which requires utilities to pay their customers for energy at the same rate at which they are charged for utility-generated energy, Georgia’s bidirectional metering system allows utilities to “negotiate” the rate at which they will pay back customers for generation. That amount tends to be a pittance.

Georgia permitted third party financing for solar generation by a unanimous vote in the legislature. Local governments can provide PACE funding for solar installation.

Georgia Solar Projects

Glen Raven, Inc., a fabrics manufacturer, will install a 1 MW solar farm at its production facility in Anderson.

Georgia Power, the state’s leading utility, recently announced plans to add 525 megawatts of renewable energy (including solar) to its generation capacity.

In September 2016, Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base began construction on a $75 million solar energy facility that will cover 254 acres.

Students at Georgia Tech have been building a solar-powered home on campus since 2015 as part of the US Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon.

In November 2016, Army officials opened a new 270-panel, 30 MW solar power array at Fort Gordon.

By 2020, Silicon Ranch Corp. and Green Power EMC partnered to build four solar energy facilities in South Georgia. The resulting project would produce enough energy for 35,000 homes.

In May 2017, an Old Port parking garage has added 600 solar panels to fulfill 25% of Hyatt Place Portland Old Port hotel’s energy needs.

In 2017, testing of a solar road has began in West Point. 18 miles of Georgia highway is being used to test the solar panel road.

Georgia Solar Advocates

Conservatives for Energy Freedom founder Debbie Dooley began lobbying for pro-solar policy in her home state of Georgia.

Georgia is home of an active chapter of the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA).
Environmental advocates like the Sierra Club, Environment Georgia, and Citizens’ Climate Lobby are active in lobbying for pro-solar measures in Georgia.

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