As we’ve written about before, the Southeast is on the cusp of a solar boom, and we attended the show to learn more about the hottest markets are and how business opportunities are unfolding.
During our time there, we learned how utilities in the Southeast are reacting to solar’s increased role in electricity production (extremely well, as it turns out — especially our friends at Duke Energy), how to navigate the tricky issue of interconnection (it’s easier than you think), and a general discussion of business opportunities (we were scribbling notes so furiously during this session that we’ll need a cryptographer to decipher them).
But one of the most interesting non-business items that leapt out at us was a brief mention of the solar war emerging in, of all places, The Sunshine State.
Georgia Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald addressed the convention as its keynote speaker, and he took exception to a disinformation campaign in Florida designed to undermine solar there — and in Georgia.
Representatives from Americans for Prosperity Florida, or AFPF, (the demon offspring of a shady political group called Americans for Prosperity, whose major funders are the billionaire oil barons Charles and David Koch) recently asserted that solar in Georgia — recently given an enormous boost by legislation allowing third-party leasing — had doubled electricity rates for Georgians. McDonald called the statement utter nonsense.
(To be clear, these are the same Koch brothers who have illegally given funds to Arizona’s utility — the most anti-solar utility in the country — to lobby the legislature for incremental fees on leased solar systems. It’s going to take senior commissioners like “Bubba” shining some light on these tactic and urging the public not to take this nonsense lying down.)
And you know what? McDonald wasn’t just huffing and puffing to cover up a “scandal.” An examination of the statement by PolitiFact Florida rated the statement a “Pants on Fire” lie. Even Georgia Power says it’s nonsense. From PolitiFact:
Georgia Power has said there has been no “upward pressure on consumer rates.” Spokesman John Kraft told PolitiFact Florida that from the beginning, part of the initiative was that the company would be able to buy solar-generated electricity at or below rates it would cost the company for traditional means, such as electricity generated by burning fossil fuels or using nuclear power. The program was voluntary from the beginning and not a state mandate.
“There isn’t a regulation per se that says you have to do this amount,” Kraft said. “The PSC [Public Service Commission] had been asking us for ways to do more solar.”
Now, we’re not going to question AFP’s motives (of course we are), but we do find it oddly predictable that an organization funded by oil magnates is trying to destroy the solar industry in multiple southeastern states. We wanted to bring it to your attention so you can be on the lookout for it in your states.
Aside from this chicanery, we came away from the conference more confident than ever that solar is the future of electricity production in the Southeast — and we can’t wait to help move the revolution forward, one commercial installation at a time.
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