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Tuesday, February 25, 2020
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Technology & Innovation

Savannah Hosts Solar Conference

Category: Technology & Innovation

SBJ Staff Report

The Georgia Solar Energy Association (GSEA) held its first Southern Solar Summit in Savannah this week, held at the Hyatt Savannah. A similar event will be held in Atlanta on Sept. 3.
The summit brought together environmental and design professionals, policymakers,  government officials, developers and others seeking to learn how to advance the clean energy sector at the inaugural event.
Both sessions will include panel discussions on topics such as training/green jobs, architecture/built-environment, solar panels, solar thermal hot water, utilities, economics and public policy. Featured keynote speakers at the Atlanta session will include John Bergwell, director of project finance for Chevron Energy Solutions, and Brad Collins, executive director of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES.)
The summit represents another example of Georgia’s increased interest and effort toward solar power development, according to GSEA, which leads the statewide effort to promote the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy through education, advocacy and industry support.
The group’s 140 members and corporate partners “are working collaboratively to create a sustainable energy economy for Georgia,” according to Walter Brown, chairman of GSEA’s board of directors. The organization is a nonprofit affiliated with the American Solar Energy Society.

Expanded Incentives From Georgia Power
In June, Georgia achieved a milestone, surpassing the solar electricity cap of 500-kW established by Georgia Power and the Public Service Commission. Georgia Power pays generators of solar electricity a premium, currently at 17.74 cents for every kilo-watt hour produced and put back on the grid, and the cap on the premium was surpassed. The cap was established in August of 2008 and reached in less than one year. However, last week Georgia Power agreed to triple the cap.
“We applaud Georgia Power for its leadership efforts in reaching this milestone and commend the more than 4,400 customers who have enrolled in the green energy program,” said Brown.
GSEA estimates that there are currently more than 400 solar electric systems installed in Georgia, generating more than 2 million kilo-watt hours and offsetting more than 1,300 tons of CO2 annually while directly creating over 100 green energy jobs.
“Now is the time to grow those numbers, and these events allow attendees the opportunity to hear first-hand from respected industry leaders how we can increase Georgia’s renewable energy use and create green jobs,” said Brown regarding the two upcoming summits.
From a public policy perspective, Georgia is behind the curve when it comes to solar support, according to ASES. “In fact, 29 states plus the District of Columbia have renewable portfolio standards; and five additional states have developed goals,” according to the group.
“These states have all taken a proactive approach in identifying the amount of energy they want solar electricity to contribute.  In essence, these states are insulating themselves from future rate increases and doing their part to ensure we are on a path towards more energy independence,” said the group’s executive director recently.
The federal Recovery Act that passed this past winter expands the current federal loan guarantee programs under Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to permit loan guarantees for proven renewable energy, transmission and bio-fuels projects.
The Georgia General Assembly also passed legislation this year that allows federal stimulus money Georgia is receiving to be used for grants to solar and wind projects, instead of after-the-fact tax credits.  The grants can pay to 35 percent of the cost of a project with a cap of $500,000. There are also other federal grants available for an additional 30 percent of a project‚s total costs.
Corporate sponsors include Cookerly Public Relations, OneWorld Sustainable, SMA Solar Technology, Sunpower, Radiance Solar and nonprofit sponsors are, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the National American Board of Certified Energy Practicioners (NABCEP), the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance and Southface.

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