House Bill 657, the Rural Georgia Economic Recovery and Solar Resource Act of 2014, was introduced March 25, the 38th day of the 2013 Legislative Session. The legislation was a pipe dream for the 2013 session but that wasn’t the point. The aim was to get the discussion going by dropping the bill at the end of the calendar in preparation for the 2014 Georgia General Assembly. After the Public Service Commission’s recent 3-2 vote in support of solar energy mandate, the fix is in for solar special interests in Georgia. The PSC simply set the trap. HB 657 will close the lid and create a brand new monopoly in the energy sector to be regulated by the same body that got the ball rolling.
Pursuant to the terms of HB 657 the Commission would select a single “community solar provider” that would be a de facto solar monopoly which will own, operate and maintain solar facilities. It is telling that when Commissioner Stan Wise offered an amendment to, at a minimum, allow more competition in Georgia’s solar sell-out by allowing smaller solar energy providers to bid on providing the now mandatory amounts of solar energy in the mix for companies like Georgia Power, the Commission voted it down. By doing so, they maintained that only a handful of strategically positioned larger providers would be capable of meeting the demand supply that is now in place on Georgia energy providers. Hence, the de facto solar monopoly. Rather than rolling back regulatory and legislative barriers to the free market development of renewable energy in Georgia this legislation will create a new regulated monopoly for solar power.