Solar Tribune

Rooftop solar: Good for the economy, good for the grid


Solar continues to create jobs, investment, economic development and grid resilience while reducing energy costs for utilities, businesses, industry and consumers. It reduces the environmental impact on air, water and carbon.  And amazingly, it can be placed atop your house.

Guest Post by Tim Echols, Originally posted in the Athens Banner-Herald

Tim Echols is Vice-Chair of the Georgia Public Service Commission. 

Georgia is a national leader when it comes to solar energy. It began in 2013 with who I call the solar trifecta: Commissioner McDonald, the late Commissioner Doug Everett and yours truly.

The Georgia Public Service Commission created a solar framework and compelled Georgia Power to move forward on solar at scale, and the program has been wildly successful, helping Georgia rank in the top 10 states nationally for total solar installed – but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

More about the topic: Georgia Power plan ends coal, but doesn’t do enough for efficiency, climate, critics say

Solar panels on a house in Galloway.
Solar Panels on a house in Galloway. Solar United Neighbors

While most of that growth has been large-scale solar installations, the next frontier in solar includes significant opportunities for Georgia to build on our success and become a leader in small-scale and rooftop solar, too. Let me explain.

The value of solar systems

In 2019, I offered a motion to our tri-annual rate proceeding with Georgia Power to create a monthly “net metering” pilot program for 5,000 Georgia Power customers.

Net metering is a crediting policy that makes rooftop solar much more affordable, by allowing customers to use all their homegrown solar on-site to meet their energy needs before buying electricity from their utility. It reduces the payback period by about a third as well.

Simply put, if a customer doesn’t have additional electricity needs while their solar panels are producing, the electricity is pushed back onto the utility’s grid. With net metering in place, that electricity is banked each month. At the end of each monthly billing period, the exported electricity produced on-site is subtracted from the electricity purchased from the utility – giving the rooftop solar customer 100 percent of the value for their homegrown energy. Hence the word “net.”

Recent Posts