Georgia Solar Utilities was formed in 2011, in response to a statement made by the GA PSC “Technology and the market have brought us a remarkable turn of events and one that the Commission should explore immediately. Solar prices today give GA an outstanding opportunity to supplement our fossil and nuclear power sources while creating good jobs and immediately assist in GA's recovery.” In addition, GA Power’s inability to take advantage of solar energy created an opportunity for the private sector to step in.
Hence, GaSU was formed to provide solar energy solutions for the citizens of Georgia, to provide a solar marketplace in the state, enhanced revenues for state and local governments, and downward pressure on electric rates. The company is now bringing that business model to Florida.
Florida, “The Sunshine State,” ranks third in the nation for rooftop solar potential, but all the way down at 12th for cumulative solar capacity installed. Florida’s solar policies lag behind many other states in the nation: it has no renewable portfolio standard and does not allow power purchase agreements, two policies that have driven investments in solar in other states. In 2014, the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) voted to end the state's solar rebate program, many utilities responded by ending their utility programs at the end of 2015. The State government’s “climate change denial” stance doesn’t help either.
The solution is action…by all Floridians from public and private sectors. For residential customers, there is “net-metering,” a process by which the power company pays for surplus energy fed back into the grid at the same rate paid by the consumer. In many areas, the PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program is available. This allows consumers to finance solar and other improvements with the equity in their home, With PACE, the up-front cost is minimal, with the payments made by a special property tax assessment,
In June of last year, Gov. Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 90, putting the changes proposed in Amendment 4 into law. For the commercial sector, the passage of Amendment 4 back in August of 2016 made solar much more appealing and feasible. In short, the Amendment eliminates commercial property tax on solar equipment. This encourages growth of solar energy installations in the private sector.
This leaves the public sector, which is largely missing from the solar equation. There are some small exceptions, which is why Florida Solar Utilities entered the game. FLSU’s parent company, Georgia Solar Utilities, has experienced substantial growth and success by securing financing for WWTP solar projects through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA). Florida has a similar program. FLSU specializes in securing grants for eligible cities, and has the resources required to manage these projects through their completion.
Technology has delivered the ability to obtain cheap energy without fuel costs and without the negative environmental consequences of coal, natural gas and nuclear power. Solar costs have dropped 55% over the last 5 years, to a point where there is cost-parity with fossil-fuel generated power.
Advantages of Solar PV from FLSU
It is unacceptable that a proven technology that can deliver so much value to the ratepayers, state coffers and business has not been deployed in a state with such an abundance of solar resources.
FLSU and its principals are committed to clean energy production that does not burn anything to produce power. The electric utilities’ need to burn fossil-fuels and nuclear materials will be extended and protected by mixing in solar.