Solar Industry Says Georgia Law Hampers Growth
Last month, when online search giant Google announced that it was investing yet another $75 million in solar installation companies, thousands of hearts in Georgia’s solar industry raced a little.
Google said that it was making the investment so that homeowners would be able to afford the photo voltaic panels for their roofs.
The company is adding this magnificent sum to the $850 million already invested in various renewable energy projects, and companies in Georgia that produce and install the solar panels are hoping they would reap the benefits.
However, homeowners in Georgia may not.
This is because of a provision in Georgia law standing in the way. Now, the Georgia Solar Energy Association wanted the legislature to change it.
According to Lee Peterson, a tax attorney with the Reznick Group in Atlanta, “If it’s a straight-up economic argument, it’s not about global warming or tree hugging. Then, a businessman would say it’s an economic-development issue.”
He points out that homeowners, as well as business owners, have to pay extra for electricity since they cannot make use of financing arrangements being offered by Google and other companies. When the unemployment rate of the state hovers above 9%, those energy savings could be utilized to create more jobs.
The problem is part of the Territorial Electric Service Act. Enacted in 1973, the law divided the state into separate zones where Georgia Power, 52 cities and 42 cooperatives exercise monopoly.
Peterson concedes that the issue is fairly complicated.
It is keeping power companies like the Atlanta-based Radiance Solar from doing in Georgia what others have done in various other states.