Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 26

BY JEFF PRATT, PRESIDENT, GREEN POWER EMC

Questions and answers about solar power in Georgia
GEORGIA Magazine routinely
receives comments and questions
from readers about a variety of subjects. Recently, a reader asked about
solar power, so we consulted with Jeff
Pratt, president of Green Power EMC,
the statewide cooperative dedicated
to renewable energy generation, and
he and his team helped with these
answers.
What is the generating capacity of
the commercial solar power stations
(stations that feed the electrical
grid) that are currently in operation
in Georgia?
The industry calls these utilityscale solar installations. Utility-scale
generally means facilities generating
1 megawatt (MW) or more, which is
enough to power about 300 homes-
but with solar power, only during
daylight hours. (To better understand the term "megawatt," see bit.ly/
mwdef.)
Georgia's electric membership
cooperatives (EMCs) have approximately 240 MW of utility-scale solar
projects in operation. Georgia Power has 868 MW of utility-scale solar
projects generating electricity. The
EMCs collectively have several hundred residential customers with rooftop solar installations, and Georgia
Power likely has even more.
EMCs have also led an innovation in large-scale solar installations,
called Cooperative Solar or Community Solar, in which individual members subscribe for specific amounts
of solar output. This is an attractive
option for consumers who can't afford solar panels, who don't own
their home or whose property is not
suited for solar panels. (For more
about Cooperative Solar, see bit.ly/
emcsolar.)
How much energy, in megawatt-hours
(MWh), is being produced, on average, by these stations?
Energy is the amount of electricity a generator produces over a
26

specific time period. For example, a
generator with a 1-megawatt (MW)
capacity that operates at 100 percent
of its capacity for one hour will produce 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of energy. If the generator operates at 50
percent capacity for that hour, it will
produce 0.5 MWh of energy. Most
generators do not operate at full capacity all the time, and a generator's
output may vary according to scheduled maintenance at the power plant,
fuel supply and instructions given by
electric-power-grid operators to maximize use of the least expensive fuel
source available to meet consumer
demand. Because bright sunlight
does not reach us all the time, solar
units generally produce at 10 percent to 20 percent of their capacity in
Georgia. Nuclear, coal and some natural gas units approach or exceed 90
percent of their generating capacity.

Solar units generally produce
at 10 percent to 20 percent of
their capacity in Georgia.
Georgia averages approximately
five hours of peak sunlight per day,
based on weather patterns and seasonal sunlight characteristics. We estimate that the current total installed
utility-scale solar capacity generates
about 2.5 million MWh each year,
which is roughly 2 percent of the
total MWh of energy produced in
Georgia (129 million MWh), according to the latest data published by the
Energy Information Administration.
What does a megawatt-hour of solar
power currently cost to produce in
Georgia?
The cost of utility-scale solar
power has decreased by more than
60 percent in the last five years.
Utility-scale projects many times can
produce wholesale electricity at pricing below 5 cents per kWh. While
electricity produced with solar energy can be competitive with conMore online at www.georgiamagazine.org

ventional forms of generation (coal,
nuclear and natural gas), almost every kilowatt of solar generation must
be backed up by a conventional resource, because of the intermittent
availability of sunlight. EMCs must
balance their sources of electricity
production with a diverse energy
portfolio to make sure members have
both affordable energy and superior
reliability.
What are the maintenance/upkeep
costs (for panels, inverters, batteries,
etc.) associated with solar power in
Georgia? Such costs must be factored
into the long-term overall cost of solar
energy production.
Solar power equipment is not
maintenance-free. Operations and
maintenance costs can vary widely
depending on the design, quality of
installation and scale of facilities-
accounting for as much as 5 percent
to 20 percent of the total cost of
energy production.
Are there still federal subsidies associated with solar power installations, and, if so, why should American
taxpayers contribute to such an effort?
There is currently a 30 percent
federal investment tax credit (ITC)
for solar power systems installed on
residential and commercial properties. This allows a project's owner to
deduct 30 percent of eligible costs
of a solar power system from federal
taxes. The ITC steps down to 26 percent in 2020 and 22 percent in 2021.
After 2021, the residential ITC will
drop to zero, while the commercial
and utility ITC will fall to a permanent 10 percent. EMCs have advocated neither for or against solar energy
subsidies, but we have advocated
for equitable treatment of all energy
sources with respect to state and
federal incentives. When working to
meet our members' interest in solar
energy, EMCs will take advantage of
available tax credits to bring value to
Georgia-based projects.
GEORGIA MAGAZINE


http://greenpoweremc.com/ http://www.bit.ly/mwdef http://www.bit.ly/mwdef http://www.greenpoweremc.com/content/georgia-electric-cooperatives-offer-customers-affordable-solar-energy-alternative-without https://www.eia.gov/electricity/state/georgia/ https://www.eia.gov/electricity/state/georgia/ http://www.bit.ly/emcsolar http://www.bit.ly/emcsolar http://www.georgiamagazine.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - January 2018

Contents
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 3
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 5
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 6
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 7
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 8
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 9
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 10
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 11
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 12
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 13
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 14
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 15
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 16
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 17
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 18
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 19
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 20
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 21
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 22
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 23
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 24
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 25
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 26
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 26A
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 26B
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 26C
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 26D
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 27
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 28
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 29
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 30
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 31
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 32
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 33
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 34
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 35
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 36
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 37
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 38
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 38A
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 38B
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 39
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 40
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 41
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 42
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 43
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 44
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 45
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 46
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 47
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 48
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 48A
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 48B
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 49
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 50
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 50A
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - 50B
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - January 2018 - Cover4
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