In July, the Public Service Commission requested that Georgia Power, the largest provider of electrical power in the state, add 525 megawatts of solar to its long-range generation portfolio. This decision became the subject of one of the most contentious debates the commission has seen since I’ve served on it.
Before making my vote, I laid three criteria that had to be satisfied, before I voted for more additional solar power. First, that no new monopoly service provider is created; second, that no upward pressure on rates is exerted; and third, that nothing violates the Territorial Services Act, which divides geographic responsibility for serving electric customers in Georgia by providers, including Georgia Power and the electric membership cooperatives and municipal electric authorities.
These criteria are why I joined my colleagues Chuck Eaton and Stan Wise in supporting two important amendments to ensure that Georgia’s consumers and businesses are protected from upward pressure on electric rates and continue to enjoy reliable service. The first amendment requires that an independent monitor oversee procurement of solar power under the program to ensure that ratepayers are protected and that the guidelines we set in place are followed. The second amendment requires that any additional solar, under the new program, be approved by the Public Service Commission only after we determine that there will be no upward pressure on electric rates. These two amendments require that no extra costs will be passed on to Georgia’s families as a result of this program.