All Georgians should have access to solar
By Guest Columnist ROJIAR ALDASHI, CEO of Better Tomorrow Solar.
Making a difference for a better tomorrow often involves trying something new.
For my family, that meant adopting solar long before it became popular to do so. For our region, that means considering alternative sources of energy today.
Right now, there is a huge demand for clean energy technology. By harnessing the power of the sun, the most natural source of energy, going solar can help mitigate the growing threat of climate change while helping families manage their monthly electric bills. Our state should help foster that growing demand with better policies, and now could not be a better time. Solar costs have declined over the last several years making rooftop solar more and more accessible to everyday folks.
Even with no renewable mandates, Georgia’s solar industry is growing and running second to Florida among the other Southeastern states. We are happy to be a contributing factor in this success. Solar is a growing industry in Georgia that is boosting our economy and helping our state emerge as a clean energy leader. But for Georgia to stay competitive, our leaders must ensure that Georgians receive fair value for the solar energy their panels produce while removing problematic barriers for clean energy companies.
A key way to ensure customers that invest in on-site solar are able to reap the benefits is through net metering policies. Net metering — and the policies that support it — is a major step toward ensuring customers receive fair value for the solar they produce. By giving customers the full value of solar generated onsite, systems are more financeable. If households and businesses can finance their systems, they can avoid steep upfront costs and instead pay for their systems over time while they are also enjoying the benefits of solar.
We know that Georgians want rooftop solar, but Georgia Power, the state’s largest electric, does not offer net metering to most of its customers.
In 2019, the state’s Public Service Commission created a small program for 5,000 Georgia Power customers to have access to monthly net metering. But the program is fully subscribed, meaning only 5,000 customers out of 2.5 million across the state are benefiting from net metering.
The cap on the number of customers who can benefit from net metering has tangible effects on Georgia’s clean energy progress. States with widespread access to net metering have far greater rooftop solar adoption rates. For example, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia all have net metering policies. This has resulted in significant rooftop solar growth in those states in recent years—and in the meantime, rooftop solar growth in Georgia is nearly flat.
To encourage the growth of solar, we need better solar policies, not only for business owners but for customers. This can be done through our utility companies and lawmakers by expanding net metering policies, which gives customers fair value for the solar energy they produce and makes it easier for customers to finance their solar systems. The Georgia Public Service Commission should expand access to net metering and pave the way for more Georgians to go solar.
We should have policies that allow everyone, no matter their background or income, to go solar and make a better tomorrow for future generations.
You can move toward a clean energy future by letting decision-makers know you want better solar policies. One organization helping to educate people on solar and provide options to participate is Georgia Solar Energy Association.
After 21 years of working in marketing and raising two children, I remember asking myself what my legacy would be and how I would make a difference. Helping more people go solar is part of that mission.