Activism georgia solar panels

Published on July 20th, 2013 | by Nicholas Brown

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Georgia Solar Gets Tea Party Boost (525 MW Approved!)

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July 20th, 2013 by
 

The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved a new program under which the local energy generator and distributor Georgia Power would be required to construct 525 MW of solar power plants by 2016.

This was proposed by Lauren McDonald and was passed with a vote of 3-2. Incidentally, a lot of support came from the local Tea Party.

georgia solar panels

Georgia solar panels.
Photo Credit: faul / CC BY

In early June, Climate Progress provided some background on this Tea Party push:

The fight to bring cheaper, clean energy to Georgia is uniting some unlikely allies. Renewable energy advocates and leaders of the Atlanta Tea Party are taking on utility giant Southern Co., and its subsidiary Georgia Power, over resisting the call to expand its development of solar energy.

As Debbie Dooley, co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party explained in an interview with Climate Progress, the group’s interest in the debate is quite simple: “The free market has been one of the founding principles of the Tea Party since it began and a monopoly is not a free market.”

In Georgia — as in many states — utilities are granted a monopoly over the ability to sell power, which means that customers have no choice in where they get their electricity. A major provision of the monopoly is that Georgia Power act in the best interest of ratepayers, regulated by the Public Service Commission.

Dooley said the Tea Party believes consumers should be able to exercise choice when it comes to their energy source and the activists she works with don’t want to be dependent on one or two energy sources. And Dooley’s effort is not aimed at reducing carbon emissions — in fact, she doesn’t believe in global warming — but based on their view that solar is a commonsense alternative for Georgia ratepayers that could function without subsidies.

For more background, read the full Climate Progress article.

Forbes, following the 525 GW of solar approval, adds:

The ruling is the latest event in what has been a loud, two-year fight. But what makes Georgia’s solar fight different is that solar advocates aren’t just selling solar as a way to reduce emissions or reduce fossil fuels. Solar has been positioned as a property rights issue pitting private citizens against utilities, regulators and fixed rates of return.

“Are New York bondholders more important than Georgia ratepayers?” Jason Rooks, a lobbyist for the Georgia Solar Energy Association, asks rhetorically. “This is about free market. This is about property rights. It is about technology and innovation.”

If the strategy continues to work, it could become a template for the advocates in rest of the country. Call it the “the enemy of my enemy is my utility” battle plan.

Following that, Forbes also has more context that is quite interesting and worth a read.

Solar Love founder and CleanTechnica director Zachary Shahan was also recently contacted (in mid-June) by an insider working with conservative politicians in Georgia who were pushing for this Georgia solar power boost. It was conveyed to him that it was hoped this effort would bring more Tea Party and Republican leaders over to the solar energy camp. Clearly, their voters support solar energy development, more than any other energy source, as poll after poll shows.

Is the Tea Party about to adopt more solar power production as one of its goals? Is the solar rooftop revolution about to get a big boost that unites conservative activists and liberal activists? Do you think it is time for governments to reduce individuals’ income tax rates in exchange for increases of gas and coal taxes? A lot of interesting questions come out of this.

Sound off in the comment section.

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About the Author

Nicholas Brown writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in electricity generation, , energy efficiency, HVAC-R, energy storage, and science overall. His website is: Kompulsa.com.



  • Ivor O’Connor

    In many very real ways the power company monopolies of today are the equivalent of the East India Company of yore. I wish the Tea Party the very best in this endeavor.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Very good point. :D

  • Alantar

    Conservatives have never been against solar power. Conservatives have been against wasting money on solar technology that is not yet financially viable. Now solar power is almost at the point of being fiscally competitive with other power sources, and has already reached that point in a few remote locations where fuel needs to be shipped in. That changes everything.

    • http://soltesza.wordpress.com/ sola

      Solar would never have become fiscally viable without Germany paying huge solar subsidies for decades. Those subsidies paid for the manufacturing learning curve that resulted in todays prices.

      What you actually say: Conservatives don’t want to innovate and work hard to achieve something better. They want someone else to do it and then they want to reap the benefits with everyone else.

      • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

        Boom! Excellent response. That is very much the story of conservatives — afraid of change, unwilling to invest in a brighter future, unwilling to give the new guy with the idea of tomorrow a jumpstart (while still dishing bank-loads of subsidies towards the rich old guys).

        • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

          Also worth noting is that the “conservatives” haven’t supported putting an accurate price on fossil fuels or nuclear energy. It’s amazing how hard it is for some people to understand that allowing pollution is a form of subsidy, as we all then pay the extra costs of that energy source at the hospital, in disaster relief, in insurance, etc.

          • Doug Cutler

            Are you trying to trick me with logic or something?

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            Haha :D

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