Yesterday the Alabama Public Service Commission approved Alabama Power’s request to pursue 500 MW of renewable energy capacity, and provided recommendations for the utility to follow when vetting projects.
“This decision represents a very positive step in bringing more renewable energy online in Alabama, and we hope it’s the first of many steps that will open access to clean energy throughout the state,” said Keith Johnston, managing attorney of the Birmingham office. “Our neighboring states may have a head start in realizing the environmental and economic benefits of renewable energy, but Alabama can use this opportunity to catch up and spur growth in this booming marketplace.”
The approval includes a recommendation to require competitive bidding, which is an important component in creating a healthy market for solar and other clean energy resources in Alabama. Consumer demand continues to grow for solar, so establishing strong systems to support this burgeoning industry will be crucial to its success.
At an August hearing before the PSC, Alabama Power’s regulatory policy manager Noel Cain gave testimony on behalf of the utility. SELC intervened in the proceeding on behalf of partner group Alabama Environmental Council, participating with a variety of groups in asking about the utility’s plans.
The PSC approved the utility’s request in a meeting yesterday, and provided several recommendations regarding the proposal. The recommendations include:
- requiring a biennial competitive bidding process for projects submitted under the proposal,
- sharing information about the projects with the staff at the PSC and the Attorney General’s office,
- submitting and approving no more than 160 MW per year for projects, and
- a vote by the PSC on whether to approve or deny each project.
Although the approval is a sign of progress in bringing more renewables online in Alabama, there is no requirement to give the public notice of any proposed projects. SELC and our partners will continue to push for a more open and transparent process around how energy decisions are made that allows the opportunity for public involvement.