Georgia Power is offering to buy power from small-scale solar operations.
Homeowners with solar power already have been able to sell excess power generated to Georgia Power at a pre-set rate, but a new program is different. Under the Renewable Energy Development Initiative, owners of a solar system can set their own rate, but it will be in a competitive bidding process.
Georgia Power announced last week a request for proposal for people to sell solar power to the company on a small scale. The solar plant can range from one kilowatt, which could fit in a typical back yard, up to three megawatts, which would require several acres at least. All of the power generated would be sold to Georgia Power under a long-term contract.
People interested can go to georgiapower.com/solar for more details.
“It gives another opportunity for someone who wants to help expand solar in Georgia,” said John Kraft, Georgia Power spokesman.
People have until Aug. 15 to put in a bid for the size of the array they would like to build and the amount they would charge for the power produced. Georgia Power is looking to buy over 100 megawatts of solar power.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, one megawatt on average would power about 164 homes, varying nationwide depending on the available sunlight.
Loren Sumner, an associate professor in the Mercer University School of Engineering, teaches an alternative energy class. He said the Georgia Power program is a good idea even if it won’t result in a substantial replacement of energy produced from burning fossil fuel.
“We are opening the avenue to go that way, and that’s what’s more critical,” he said. “We are moving in a direction to making things applicable.”
Sumner also said there are security benefits to having many small solar systems around the state, rather than concentrating power in large systems that could be disrupted.
Kraft said the solar operations can be anywhere in the state, but generally should be near a power line and on flat ground. That’s part of why Middle Georgia has become a center point of solar initiatives.
Last year Georgia Power announced plans to build a 139 megawatt solar farm north of Robins Air Force Base. Four separate solar farms in Taylor County generate 300 megawatts, and one is planned in Twiggs County that will be the largest in the Southeast.