Georgia Power says PSC has made it clear how to add new solar

Georgia Power told the Georgia Public Service Commission on Aug. 5 that it has a clear way forward from the commission’s July 17 approval of its integrated resource plan (IRP) as far as securing 525 MW of new solar capacity.

The Georgia Solar Energy Industries Association (GSEIA), and the Sierra Club and the Coosa River Basin Initiative (collectively “Sierra Club”), had filed separate motions for reconsideration or clarification.

“The Company’s Response will address three issues raised by the Motions,” said Georgia Power. “First, the Company does not intend to use a request for proposals (‘RFP’) process for procurement of the 100 megawatts (‘MW’) of additional distributed generation (‘DG’) resources approved by the Commission. Second, the Commission’s Final Order, as clarified by the Final Order NUNC PRO TUNC filed July 25, 2013, makes clear that the avoided cost to be utilized for purposes of the additional solar resources will be developed in accordance with protocol utilized in the Company’s Advanced Solar Initiative (‘ASI’) and that such avoided cost will be approved by the Commission. Third, in developing the avoided cost, the Company will use the most recently available information, as is required by the Commission’s Final Order.”

GSEIA and Sierra Club filed their motions on July 26. GSEIA seeks clarification with respect to three issues: 

  • Whether the 100 MW of DG resources approved in the final order will be subject to a competitively bid RFP process;
  • Which avoided cost calculation the commission intended to establish as a cap on solar payments from the utility; and
  • Whether the avoided cost cap will apply only to the additional utility scale resources.

The issues for which Sierra Club sought clarification were similar to those raised by GSEIA. Sierra Club seeks clarification with respect to three issues:

  • Whether the additional solar DG resources will be selected through a lottery system and priced in the same manner as the ASI;
  • Whether the projected levelized avoided costs to be applied is the price utilized in the ASI; and
  • Whether the phrase “[n]o bid shall be accepted which exceeds Georgia Power’s projected levelized avoided cost for the term of the purchase power agreement” applies only to the utility scale projects and whether procurement of additional solar DG resources will follow the DG procedures utilized in ASI.

The July 25 commission order corrected the July 17 final IRP order by confirming that the projected avoided cost that will be utilized by Georgia Power in its selection of solar resources would first need to be approved by the commission. To the extent GSEIA and Sierra Club raised issues in their motions regarding whether the commission would “approve” the company’s avoided cost projections, those issues would appear to be resolved by the July 25 order, Georgia Power noted.

“Under the Commission’s Final Order, the addition of 525 MW of new solar will be done in a manner consistent with the ‘ASI protocols,’” the utility noted. “This includes the addition of 425 MW of utility scale solar projects and 100 MW of DG projects. Under the ASI, the pricing for the Small/Medium DG scale programs was developed utilizing a projected long term avoided energy cost, a generation capacity benefit that was benchmarked to the market capacity price, and the transmission and distribution benefits that DG projects can provide. Levelized pricing reflecting the appropriate avoided cost was offered under the ASI to DG solar resources. The same approach using an updated avoided cost is appropriate for the additional solar DG resources approved by the Commission in its Final Order and this process is consistent with the ASI protocols.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.