Today marks the official launch of a new Georgia law allowing for third party participation in solar financing--possibly a game-changer for rooftop solar growth in the state.
The Solar Power Free-Market Financing Act of 2015 will make it easier for homeowners, small businesses, schools and churches to invest in solar by authorizing financing arrangements with private solar companies based on solar output, potentially reducing or eliminating the high upfront costs of solar panels and installation.
Months of negotiations and compromise involving multiple parties–conservative lawmakers, solar business interests, SELC and other environmental groups, organizations like the Georgia Property Rights Council and Georgians for Solar Freedom, and state utilities, including Georgia Power–resulted in the law’s passage in March.
The law clarifies that financing opportunities do not violate utility monopoly protection laws. Georgia Power is looking to invest in the lucrative rooftop solar market by offering a new solar sales and installation service through an unregulated business entity.
Georgia is on track to have nearly 1 gigawatt of solar power by the end of 2016, enough to power more than 125,000 homes. The majority of this solar power comes from large solar farms, but removing financing barriers for rooftop solar is expected to spur even more growth for the state. A recent report from Environmental Entrepreneurs shows that Georgia’s rapidly growing solar industry has put the state at the top of the list as the No. 1 job creator in the clean energy industry during the first quarter of 2015.