Georgian lawmakers face big clean energy and transportation opportunities – SACE | Southern Clean Energy AllianceSACE
A number of bills in the Georgia General Assembly could reap the benefits of clean energy, electric vehicles and increase energy equity. Here are five policies of particular importance.
Cary Ritzler and Bryan Jacob | March 10, 2022
| Electric Vehicles, Energy Justice, Georgia, Solar
The five policies listed below are of particular importance to Georgia’s clean energy transition and its role in solving the climate crisis. The fate of those bills for this year will be decided in the coming weeks, as Georgia’s legislative session ends on April 4. Yet an even closer deadline is March 15, also known as “Crossover Day”, which is the date by which any bill must pass a chamber of the legislature (the House or the Senate). to have a chance of being enacted this year.
Fair Credit for Georgia Solar Customers (SB 583 / HB 1491 / SB 299 / HB 1083):
What he does: Ensures that utilities credit customers who have solar panels for the fair value of the solar energy they send back to the grid by adopting a “monthly offset”, which allows each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of solar energy sent to the grid to offset any kWh drawn from the grid at a one-to-one rate until the end of the monthly billing cycle.
Why it matters:
- Customers deserve fair compensation for the solar power they generate in their homes and businesses and send to the grid for other customers to use.
- In 2019, the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) ordered Georgia Power to offer a monthly compensation pilot program for the first 5,000 customers. This cap was reached in mid-2021, excluding most Georgians from any fair solar program.
- The lack of equitable rooftop solar policies has placed Georgia far behind in rooftop solar development compared to neighboring states (see chart).
- Utility-scale solar is very valuable, but rooftop solar should not be left behind when only utility-scale solar advances. Rooftop solar power has unique benefits for Georgians: reducing bills, contributing to a reliable grid and creating jobs. In fact, rooftop solar generates ten times more jobs per megawatt than utility-scale solar.
Solar Homeowners Bill of Rights (HB 483)
What he does: Stop Home Owners Associations (HOAs) from telling people they can’t install solar on their own roofs
Why it matters:
- We live in a country where individuals have the freedom to make choices about what they do with their property, and that should include clean energy choices.
- HOAs should not be able to prevent individuals from choosing clean, renewable energy for their homes.
- People deserve the right to decide for themselves whether rooftop solar makes sense for their personal property.
- Rooftop solar power is a good investment for homeowners – it can increase property values and provide clean electricity.
LEGISLATION ON ELECTRIC VEHICLES
Charging stations for electric vehicles (HB 1133)
What he does: Enables businesses to sell electric vehicle (EV) charging by the kWh rather than by the minute
Why it matters:
- When electric vehicle drivers charge at public charging stations, they deserve a fair and transparent transaction.
- Current law only allows private EV charging stations to charge per minute rather than per kWh, even though EV drivers are buying electricity, not time.
- Generally speaking, the more expensive and more efficient the EV, the faster it charges. For example, a lower-cost Nissan Leaf plugged into a fast charger can do 12.5 miles of range per minute, while a luxury Porsche Taycan can do 15.5 miles in the same minute. This means that when paying by the hour to the charger, a Leaf driver charging next to a Taycan driver pays more for the same electricity. Charging per kWh is fair for customers, regardless of the type of electric vehicle they drive.
- Additionally, permitting per-kWh charging aligns Georgia with neighboring states and supports regional businesses such as fuel retailers that need a consistent method of pricing electric vehicle charging to support customer satisfaction. clients.
What he does: Enables manufacturers to sell and service electric vehicles directly to customers
Why it matters:
- The current car dealer franchise law largely prohibits direct-to-consumer sales of electric vehicles by manufacturers, effectively excluding new electric vehicle companies from the Georgian market and limiting electric vehicle options for Georgians.
- In 2015, Tesla was granted an exemption to offer direct sales and service at five locations across the state. Other electric vehicle manufacturers, such as Rivian, should be entitled to a similar market opportunity. Otherwise, Georgians will have to go out of state to buy and maintain electric vehicles, even those made in Georgia.
- Georgia is becoming an electric vehicle hotspot, and this bill allows Georgians to reap more benefits from the development of the electric vehicle industry here at home. This bill gives consumers greater access to the growing electric vehicle market, ensuring they can purchase and maintain the electric vehicle of their choice right at home in Georgia.
IMPROVING ENERGY EQUITY IN GEORGIA
Georgian funds first (HB 1487)
What he does: Creates a fund from Georgia Power’s excess profits to help make energy more affordable for low-income customers through billing assistance, energy efficiency and weather protection, l solar energy, etc. ; requires the utility to publicly report quality of service data to residential customers
Why it matters:
- Georgians face some of the highest electricity bills in the country. Studies have found that Atlanta residents have some of the most unaffordable energy in metropolitan areas in the nation, with particularly heavy energy affordability burdens for seniors, blacks, Hispanics, and low-income households.
- More than 1.2 million Georgians spend more than 6% of their household income on energy, an “energy load” considered unaffordable.
- Meanwhile, Georgia Power has raked in $10.4 billion in profits for shareholders over the past decade, while consistently making more profits at the expense of customers than state regulators allow. In four of the last ten years, the utility exceeded the maximum range above that target and was forced to return the excess proceeds to subscribers.
- This bill would redirect a tiny percentage of Georgia Power’s excess profits to the Georgians First Fund, which would help ease the affordability burden on hard-working people by providing bill assistance and investing in energy efficiency. , weatherization, solar energy, etc.
- More specifically, public service contributions to the fund would be 5% of amounts within the permitted range of the return on equity target set by the Civil Service Commission and 10% of amounts collected above the allowed range.
- The bill would also require the utility to publicly communicate quality of service data to residential customers.
- According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, investing in energy equity “can reduce energy costs, create jobs, and promote the health, safety, and well-being of residents,” and we at SACE believe that Georgians deserve these benefits.
Stay tuned! SACE will monitor these bills and update our members in Georgia as the session progresses.