Thanks to Georgia's Public Service Commission for Bringing More Solar Energy to our State

In politics, the right decision is rarely the easy one. Taking an action outside the expected norm takes political guts, plus standing up to powerful interests. And that’s what happened on July 11th when Georgia Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald led the effort to add 525 MW of solar to our state’s energy mix. He was joined in that vote by fellow commissioners, Tim Echols and Doug Everett. And Commissioner Chuck Eaton voted in favor of the overall plan.

The new solar capacity was part of Georgia Power’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which is a 20-year plan for how Georgia will get our energy. For decades, that portfolio has been dominated by coal, nuclear, and natural gas. Now – thanks to the leadership of our Public Service Commission, (PSC) – more sunshine will be added to the mix.

The Commissioners have all expressed different reasons for their vote: – McDonald has praised solar as a way to create homegrown Georgia jobs,; Everett was supportive of the competitive bidding process and benefits to Georgia ratepayers,; and Echols sees solar as a hedge against government regulations of coal, natural gas, fracking, and nuclear energy.

GreenLaw represented the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Coosa River Basin Initiative in this year’s IRP. Our case focused on the need for additional renewable energy resources in Georgia – wind and solar in particular – and for decreased reliance on coal-generated power. This was our first IRP case, and it was a great experience to interact with all of the commissioners. We found the PSC members to be accessible and open to hearing our views. Even the one dissenting vote on the IRP Commissioner Stan Wise, was open to meeting with us and sharing his views. All of us at GreenLaw are grateful to the commissioners for being accessible and generous with their time. We look forward to continue to engage with the PSC as we work together on smart energy solutions for our state.