Even though the state of Georgia has plenty of sunshine historically it hasn’t done that well with solar power development. Utility and state politics have been the main barrier, but apparently that resistance has been fading, at least somewhat.
For example, recently it was announced that the largest solar power plant in Georgia will be constructed. First Solar will build a 131 MW utility-scale solar power plant for Southern Power in Taylor county. Using a 25-year power purchase agreement, the electricity generated by it will be sold to three Georgia electric corporations.
Currently, Georgia has about 141 MW of solar power capacity. Adding 131 MW will almost double that amount, and in just about two years. The new plant is scheduled for completion towards the end of 2016. About 1.6 million solar modules will be installed and they will have some sun tracking capability. This means they will have an ability to follow the the arc of the sun in the sky to help maximize exposure to it and therefore generate more electricity.
Is is a big deal for a southern state to nearly double its solar power capacity in a short time? It must be noted that Georgia’s southern neighbor, Florida, also has plenty of sunshine but has been a solar power laggard. Florida also has copious amounts of real estate development and rooftop space for solar, but politics is stubbornly resisting it.
So, Georgia is definitely to be commended for being able to adapt to the new reality that solar power is now much more affordable than in the past, and is a good alternative to developing new coal and nuclear power plants.
Arizona is another conservative state with abundant sunlight that is meeting with some resistance to solar power. Georgia apparently has shifted away from a bunker mentality when it comes to solar power and will allow it to grow there gradually.
It should also be noted that constructing such large solar power plants increases new jobs, though most of them are only for the construction phase. There will probably be a number of permanent jobs created when the plant is finished to operate it.
Image: Rivers Langley