Comes now Georgia Power, those “good corporate citizens” we know and love. They keep our lights on, our flat screen TVs flicker-free and allow us to bear the heat of Georgia summers without looking like Paul Newman in “Cool Hand Luke.” (Fact: “Cool Hand Luke” was nominated for an Oscar as the “sweatiest movie ever made,” but it lost out to “The Bridge on the River Kwai.” Now you know.)
Georgia Power would have you believe that allowing some Georgia ratepayers to put solar panels on their roofs would cause electricity rates to skyrocket for those ratepayers who don’t put solar panels on their roofs. In the power generating industry, the technical term for this position is illustrated by the picture above.
I appreciate the great concern Georgia Power has shown me as their
customer ratepayer. Why, just a couple of years ago they thoughtfully protected me from the high cost of financing nuclear power plants by charging me fees before those plants were even built. I was so relieved! Yes, yes, my fees went up, but not as much as they might have. Thanks, barely regulated monopoly!
The legislative backstory on this bill has been fascinating. State Sen. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) proposed SB 401, a bill that would allow power customers to install solar panels and finance them with solar companies. That bill was quickly assigned to the Natural Resources Committee, where good ideas go to be murdered. Undaunted, Carter attached the solar power bill to SB 459, a bill which would allow consumers opt out of letting Georgia Power use smart meters to read their electric usage. (Aside: Under SB 459, ratepayers who opt out of smart meters will be charged a fee for NOT having new equipment installed at their houses, presumably so Georgia Power can recover the cost of those customers’ new tinfoil hats.)
Consumer guru Clark Howard, who has single-handedly saved Georgians more money than all members of the Georgia Legislature since we became a state, testified that allowing ratepayers to get a little of their power from solar companies would be a step into the 21st century, create jobs and allow Georgia to catch up with the 45 other states that allow this. Committee members have to consider carefully whether those things are good ideas, and will let us know when they are done thinking and Georgia Power has provided them with their talking points.
In the meantime, op-eds are popping up in newspapers all over the state, explaining that these solar purchase agreements that are legal in 45 other states are bad for Georgia because they would require “regulated power providers to basically treat the new renewable installations as their own, tying them into the grid, installing the transmission lines they need, and accounting for all of the consequences for when the sun doesn’t shine.” You know, just like Georgia Power does now. (See that picture at the top of this post? Look at it again, because Georgia Power wants you to have a double serving.)
There’s probably no hope for any pro-solar power legislation passing this session. Crossover Day is tomorrow, and the mad rush to finish the legislative session and get home and start fundraising has begun. The good news for Georgians is that if you choose to donate money to an incumbent elected official, you can now do so more efficiently.
Just include your campaign contribution as an extra amount on your next electric bill. Your power company will make sure it gets there.