Georgia does not have a mandate for power companies to add renewables and has not made climate change a political priority. Solar energy is booming there anyway.
The state has gone from virtually no solar industry ten years ago to ninth nationwide in installed solar capacity this year, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Solar power has flourished in Georgia as tech companies like Facebook Inc. seek to locate facilities near cheap renewable energy sources and rural communities turn to solar farms to generate tax revenue and jobs.
Much of the initial solar and wind power construction in the United States over the past three decades was driven by mandates in states such as Iowa, California, Colorado, and New York that required services public to source a certain amount of renewable energy. But wind and solar are now gaining market share, even in states that do not have such requirements, as Georgia’s experience shows.
Republican regulators have pushed the state’s main electricity company, Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Co., to invest in solar power, saying economics make it an attractive source of energy beyond its carbon-free characteristics.
“Don’t come into my office to talk about climate change or the environment,” said Tim Echols, who has served for the past decade on the elected and all-Republican civil service commission that regulates public services owned by the government. to state investors. “Talking about new jobs, talking about low-cost energy, talking about reducing transmission lines,” he said. “Learn to speak Republican here.”