It’s hard to feel sorry for Georgia Power; however, the solar mandates crowd goes too far. Georgia Power promoted the idea of Integrated Resource Planning as a way to involve the politicians (via the Public Service Commission) early on in their plans for new power generation. With political micromanagement, the Public Service Commissioners became partners in future capital projects.
Now comes Commissioner Bubba McDonald with the votes of Echols and Everett to support a solar power boondoggle, and Georgia Power becomes victim to the Frankenstein monster of their own making.
McDonald’s squeeze play (mandating a prescribed amount of solar power be added to GP’s mix) is possible because Georgia Power needs his vote and influence to get the huge cost overruns of the nuclear project into their approved capital account. Until the Vogtle matter is resolved, the Commissioner McDonald holds many of the cards and can extract favors for his buddies and good publicity for himself.
Breaking the Monopoly
In the great public effort to have Georgia Power forced to buy more solar power, the proponents claimed the policy was a challenge to the monopoly of Georgia Power. (They also claimed it wasn’t a mandate). The pro-solar crowd is completely wrong on the effects of measure, but it’s good to see public outcry about the evils of monopoly.
In Georgia the way to break the monopoly is simple. Georgia’s Territorial Law allows larger customers to pick their power company when their facility is built. This customer right can simply be extended to allow any customer to choose electricity providers and have that perpetual choice. The 90 electricity distributors in Georgia share the high voltage transmission system, and right now any of them can bid for the new large customers. A few changes in certain clauses in the Territorial Law and Georgia’s electricity monopoly will be broken.