Central Georgia EMC removes punitive charge against solar customers

SELC encourages utilities across the Southeast to set fair rates for solar customers, considering the full benefits that rooftop solar provides to the grid. Above, solar panels are installed on a family’s roof. (© Jackson Smith)

Following months of advocacy by SELC, the Georgia Solar Energy Association and Vote Solar, the Central Georgia Electric Membership Cooperative recently decided to remove a punitive charge it had imposed on customers with solar installations.

Solar customers of Central Georgia EMC were shocked earlier this year when their power provider changed its policies, creating a new charge that would claw back up to 106 percent of the savings customers would have reaped from solar investments and causing their bills to skyrocket. This new charge would have prevented anyone with solar from ever realizing a full return on the money spent to install the system – essentially penalizing people for taking control of their energy use.

After public outcry and much deliberation, the CGEMC board voted to remove the monthly $7 per kilowatt charge on solar installations. The revised solar policy went into effect on November 1.

By replacing the charge with a new data-driven rate structure, CGEMC has recognized that solar is a smart and viable investment for Georgians that provides myriad benefits to all customers and to the utility itself.

“We commend Central Georgia EMC for removing its monthly charge on customers with solar, and we encourage other utilities to follow Central’s example of thoughtful, data-driven analysis of solar’s benefits,” SELC attorney Jill Kysor said. “This process proves that Georgians’ investments in solar can be a win-win-win for individual homeowners, our communities, and the electric grid.”

Solar installer Montana Busch, president of Alternative Energy Southeast, installed some of the systems for CGEMC customers who were affected by the utility’s policy changes.

“This is a big step towards balancing the scales for behind-the-meter solar power in Georgia,” Busch said. “We in the solar business simply ask for non-discriminatory regulations for solar power to compete with conventional power sources. Thanks to solar owners and advocates, we are getting closer, but there is still more to be done.”

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