The firm’s Renewable Energy practice began in 2008, working with Georgia’s nascent solar energy industry. Since then, the firm has continued and expanded its involvement with advancement of solar energy. But now, we are also involved in electric generation from renewable biomass resources, including wood, landfill gas and animal waste. We represent Qualified Facilities (“QF”) under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (“PURPA”), landowners involved with negotiation of contracts for deployment of renewable facilities on private property and entities involved with negotiation of Power Purchase Agreements (“PPA”) for the sale of electricity generated by renewable resources.
Prior to 2008, utility scale solar generation projects were non-existent in Georgia. The opportunity for citizens and businesses to deploy solar to reduce their electric need and sell any excess to the utility was also very limited. Under the Georgia Cogeneration and Distributed Generation Act of 2001, an electric service provider in Georgia was only required to purchase electricity generated by renewable resources up to 0.2% of its annual peak demand in the previous year on a first come, first served basis. The sale of excess generation to Georgia Power Company (“GPC”) was governed by its “Renewable & Non-Renewable Tariff (“RNR”) which tied the purchase of solar energy to Georgia’s Green Energy Program which allowed individuals and businesses who were willing to pay a premium price for electricity to voluntarily support electric generation by renewable resources. In 2008, only 500 kW of electricity were purchased by Georgia’s largest electric supplier under RNR, and very little of it was from solar generation.
In 2009, the firm began its work with the Georgia Solar Energy Association (“GSEA”) – an industry group of Georgia based entrepreneurs developing renewable energy resources in Georgia. In 2009, the firm successfully negotiated an increase up to 1.5 MW of renewable energy purchased under RNR. In 2010, the firm negotiated a new “Solar Purchase” tariff which specifically identified solar energy resources for purchase. In 2010, the firm presented the first testimony before the Georgia Public Service Commission (“PSC”) on behalf of Georgia’s solar industry seeking PSC direction that GPC purchase more electricity from solar energy facilities. In 2012, the firm (on behalf of GSEA) worked with GPC and the PSC Staff to establish guidelines and contract terms for the Advanced Solar Initiative (“ASI”) which authorized the development of up to 210 MW of solar projects to generate electricity to be purchased by GPC.
Now, the firm continues its work to advance development of solar energy generation in Georgia on behalf of the Georgia Solar Energy Industries Association (“GSEIA”) – the Georgia chapter of the national Solar Energy Industries Association (“SEIA”). The firm initiated a proceeding to establish a Value of Solar to set market based pricing for the sale of energy from distributed generation projects which ultimately resulted in approval of a Renewable Cost-Benefit Analysis (“RCB”) to value site specific solar generation resources. The firm worked with GPC and the PSC Staff to implement ASI Prime, which authorized the purchase of another 450 MW of solar electric generation. The firm is currently working with private solar developers to implement GPC’s Renewal Energy Development Initiative (“REDI”) which will add another 1150 MW to Georgia’s grid.
Most importantly, the firm (on behalf of GSEA and GSEIA) has promoted the development of solar energy generation resources in Georgia without a Renewable Portfolio Standard (“RPS”) used in other states. Instead of an RPS, the firm has advocated for solar development based on a market-based pricing and supported competitive bidding for project awards for non-customer sited projects. Our work is based on the premise that market-based pricing will result in the lowest energy cost to consumers and allow solar energy generation to achieve grid parity. Georgia has led the nation in market-based solar deployment, and by the end of 2021 more than 2 GW of solar generation is expected to be developed and on line in Georgia. Our firm has been there from the start.
Opportunities for electric generation by combustion of renewable biomass resources abound in Georgia. Biomass generation resources take several forms: wood and forest products, landfill gas and animal waste. The importance of biomass generation resources was recognized by the PSC when it approved GPC’s 2015 Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for the construction and operation of biomass electric generating facilities. The projects awarded in the RFP include generation from both wood and landfill gas biomass resources.
The firm has represented companies who tendered projects into the RFP and were awarded PPAs. The firm has represented parties that desired to either transfer or acquire projects awarded in the RFP. The firm has also negotiated utility service contracts for the development of the biomass facilities, participated in required zoning, land use and environmental permit approvals for the biomass facilities and provided opinions required for project financing. Our firm has also worked with entrepreneurs developing industrial sites for manufacture of biomass fuel used by electric service providers in Europe.