Georgia Power customers are eligible to participate in the utility’s Solar Buy Back program, a program similar to net metering, to reduce their electricity bills with solar. Participating customers who are connected to the grid and generate electricity from home solar systems can sell their excess electricity back to Georgia Power in exchange for bill credits. Any excess solar energy generated in a month will carry over to the next month. If your panels produce more energy than you use in a month, that extra energy is carried over to the months you need more electricity.
Georgia Power serves 2.4 million customers with 87,000 miles of power lines and 17,600 MW of electric generating capacity - this includes part of nearly every county in Georgia.
Unlike many utilities, Georgia Power does not offer credits worth the full retail rate of electricity for excess solar power sent back to the grid. Instead, the utility compensates customers at the “avoided energy” rate, which is equivalent to the amount that the utility would otherwise pay to buy the power on the open market.
However, this only accounts for the electricity that you send back to the grid. With Georgia Power’s program, the best way to maximize your solar savings is to ensure that you use as much of your solar electricity at home when it’s produced so that you send as little back to the grid as possible.
The Solar Buy Back program offers the same credits regardless of the residential rate plan that you are enrolled with. All unused energy produced by your solar panels results in bill credits that carry over into the next month. You can use these credits on your bill or sell them back to Georgia Power at the rate equal to Georgia Power’s “avoided-energy” cost (the cost the utility would have spent to supply the power itself).
A list of Georgia Power’s residential rate plans can be found here – two of the more common plans are the Standard Service and Nights and Weekends plans. The Standard Service rate is good for customers who are comfortable with fluctuations in their bill and are not likely to shift or monitor their electricity usage. The Nights and Weekends rate offers an opportunity to save money if you use solar to avoid reduce your grid electricity consumption during peak periods (when electricity is particularly costly to produce).
Because Georgia Power does not offer net metering, the utility does not have a specific net metering cap. The state of Georgia does have a cap on the amount of solar that can subscribe to net metering, which is set at 0.2% of a utility’s peak electricity demand from the previous year.
There is also a cap on the size of solar systems that wish to sell their electricity back to Georgia Power. Residential systems are limited to 10 kW and commercial are limited to 100 kW.
Georgia Power is part of the Southern Company, which is the state’s largest utility. Georgia Power is also the only investor-owned power company in Georgia, and is therefore the only company whose prices are regulated by the Georgia Public Service Commission.
Other types of electrical suppliers, such as Electric Membership Corporations and municipalities, are not subject to outside regulation. Rather, they are regulated by their own directors. These other types of electrical suppliers might not offer net metering and prices will not be subject to regulation.
If your solar panels produce more power than you use in a month you will accumulate credits on your bill for the excess generation. These credits can be carried over into the next month to supplement any deficits. This excess generation is credited to your next bill not at retail rate, but at the solar avoided cost (the cost the utility would have spent to supply or purchase the power itself).
Georgia Power does not offer incentives specifically for solar, but does offer rebates and incentives for energy efficient appliances, including clothes washers, water heaters, lighting fixtures, and programmable thermostats. A list of those items can be found here.
Georgia Power’s online tool “Is Solar Right for You?” is meant to help homeowners and renters choose whether or not to pursue solar. Once you have decided to install panels you will need to complete an application form. This notifies Georgia Power that you intend to connect the panels to their grid. Once approved, installation can begin.
After installation is finished the solar system will need to be tested and inspected by a municipal, state, federal, or governmental agency/Authority Having Jurisdiction. Inspection assures that your system meets all federal, state, safety, and local construction codes. You will also have to pay an interconnection fee to connect to Georgia Power’s grid. This is the last step in the process.
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