Southern Exposure film highlights Alabama’s untapped solar potential

In this still from the video Jerry Adams, former director of Alabama Center for Excellence in Clean Energy Technologies, walks under the shade of solar panels at the center's headquarters on the Calhoun Community College campus in Decatur, Alabama.  (© Lauren Musgrove)

Alabama’s abundance of hot, sunny days would presumably make the decision to go solar a no-brainer for homeowners and small businesses across the state. But most of Alabama remains in the dark, largely due to political impediments and policy barriers holding back its solar success.

The 2015 Southern Exposure film, “On the Horizon,” explores the challenges facing solar in Alabama, including Alabama Power’s punitive tax on customers who install and use solar panels to offset electricity consumption at their homes, businesses, and farms.

SELC has publicly called on Alabama Power in the past to join other utilities across the Southeast— including other Southern Company subsidiaries Georgia Power and Mississippi Power—that are seeing the job creation and cost savings from investing in solar.

After production wrapped on the film, the Alabama Public Service Commission (PSC) heard testimony from Alabama Power requesting approval to invest in 500 MW of renewable energy capacity, which the PSC granted in early September.

Despite some positive steps toward embracing Alabama’s solar potential, there is much more the utility can and should do that would make solar and other renewable energy resources more widely available to customers throughout the state.

“Solar is incredibly popular across all sides of the political spectrum, and Alabamians want to see more of it,” said Katie Ottenweller, leader of SELC’s Solar Initiative. “To have a conversation about how Alabama Power can adapt to these new changing markets and protect customers’ rights to harness these technologies without being penalized—we’ve had that in other parts of the South, and I think it’s high time we had those conversations in Alabama as well.”

Below you can watch Southern Exposure fellow Lauren Musgrove’s film about the environmental and economic benefits of solar power, and how Alabama can capitalize on its solar potential in a way that creates opportunities statewide.

Finishing up its fourth year, Southern Exposure is sponsored by SELC and made possible through the support and partnership of local and statewide conservation groups. Visit for more information about the films and to learn about ways to get involved in the issues seen onscreen.

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