Georgia Republican Introduces Bill to Legalize Solar Leases

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A Georgia Republican introduces legislation to make solar leases legal in the state. Solar leases have greatly accelerated solar adoption in the 22 states where they’re available.

Whatever you think of solar leases, they have been huge in accelerating solar adoption. In California, they account for over 75% of new residential solar installations. It’s no surprise: although homeowners can save more money over the long run by buying a system, that requires plunking down a big chunk of change. And individuals may not be able to take advantage of all the tax incentives that a business can. Leases, on the other hand, let people start saving money right away.

Those factors have made solar leases popular. Yet they’re still only available in 22 states. That’s because they’re only allowed by law in 22 states.

 

Georgia is not one of those. But now, a Georgia Republican wants to change that.

 

Despite its lack of leasing options, the state has been prominent in solar news. Last year, a proposal by utility Georgia Power to impose a fee for solar customers was dropped in the face of widespread public and PUC opposition. That followed another solar victory, which involved the now-famous Green Tea Coalition lobbying for more solar in the state.

 

With its great insolation and some favorable solar policies, Georgia is poised to emerge as an important solar state. It was identified by GTM Research as a hidden solar market with promise.

 

The state would certainly be better positioned to achieve that solar promise if leasing were available there.

 

And that’s what Georgia Representative Mike Dudgeon wants to make happen. He introduced a bill in the General Assembly Tuesday that would let property owners lease solar panels. The bill is aimed at personal use of panels on an individual’s property, not utility-scale solar.

 

There have been previous attempts to introduces solar leasing legislation, but they haven’t gotten far. Therefore, Dudgeon has attempted to draw his bill narrowly enough to be avoid conflicts with a law that gives Georgia Power Co. the exclusive right to serve its existing customers.

 

The utilities, however, say the law blocks solar leasing because only licensed utilities can sell power to individuals.

 

According to the Athens Banner-Herald, a Georgia Power spokesman claimed that the proposed legislation isn’t necessary. “The current structure that has been in place for many decades has served customers well,” he said.

 

Not surprisingly, both the Georgia Solar Energy Industries Association and the Georgia Solar Energy Association have endorsed the bill.