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Georgia Power opposes proposed solar utility

ATLANTA -- As expected, Georgia Power Co. is objecting to a proposal to end its monopoly and allow a start-up company to compete for retail customers.

Late Friday, Georgia Power filed its formal response with the Public Service Commission challenging a request by Georgia Solar Utilities Inc.

GaSU contends there is ample sunlight to produce electricity for much of the state during peak hours at a rate below what Georgia Power charges. It wants to sell electricity during sunny hours over lines owned by other companies like Georgia Power, the electric membership cooperatives and the city-owned utilities.

Georgia Power says GaSU isn’t equipped to become a utility.

“GaSU does not have any of the services typically provided by a utility. It has no customers, no existing generation resources, no distributions lines nor the ability to transmit or distribute any generation to any customers and no plan to offer safe, 24-hour, seven-day-a-week electric service to customers,” wrote Georgia Power attorney Kevin Greene, adding that the company expects all of the 94 electricity providers in the state to provide those services.

Georgia Power is not completely protected from competition. The state’s 94 electricity providers compete for large business customers which have one chance to pick their utility and are locked in. And new generation plants are awarded on the basis of competitive bidding where Georgia Power bids against other companies.

GaSU is seeking to get monopoly protection as the only solar provider and avoid having to bid for generation projects, according to Greene.

He also said GaSU needs to file other documents that Georgia Power routinely submits to the commission.

GaSU President Robert Green acknowledges that more documents would have to be filed but said his company is just seeking commission approval of the concept before submitting them.

He argues that the big company’s objections are a defense against a better competitor.

“We have no fuel costs, no environmental problems. It’s not possible for them to compete with us over the long term,” he said. “They just can’t do it.”

So far, the commission hasn’t scheduled a hearing to consider GaSU’s request.

 

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