Saturday, October 18, 2014

Georgia Is the Latest State to Procure Dirt-Cheap Solar Power

Solar Growth in Georgia (Credit: Shutterstock) Click to enlarge.
One year ago, Tea Party members in Georgia joined forces with environmental advocates to force the state's utility, Georgia Power, to competitively procure more solar power.  Upset about a lack of consumer choice and the $1.5 billion in cost overruns from the Vogtle nuclear power plant, the groups convinced regulators to expand Georgia Power's solar target by an additional 525 megawatts.

The results of competitive bidding through the utility-scale portion of that program are now coming in.  And they once again show that solar -- maligned by many national Republicans, but often embraced locally by conservatives -- is a very cost-competitive technology.

After a second round of bidding from developers seeking to build hundreds of megawatts' worth of solar plants in the state, Georgia Power reported that the average price of electricity came in at 6.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.  That's 2 cents cheaper than last year's bids.
These competitive prices for large-scale solar projects are not unique to Georgia.  In Texas, Austin Energy recently signed a PPA for 150 megawatts of solar for 5 cents per kilowatt-hour; in Colorado, Xcel Energy said it can buy electricity from 170 megawatts of solar plants for less than buying from natural gas plants; and in Utah, Rocky Mountain Power also signed deals for 80 megawatts of solar for less than gas.

“This is the first time that we’ve seen, purely on a price basis, that the solar projects made the cut -- without considering carbon costs or the need to comply with a renewable energy standard -- strictly on an economic basis,” said David Eves, CEO of an Xcel subsidiary, in an interview with the Denver Business Journal last year.

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