Jul
18
2015

Solar Announcement by Alabama Power Makes Sense, Draws Praise

According to a July 14th report, Alabama Power is moving forward with a plan to install as much as 500 megawatts of renewable energy – including solar – in the near future. Reactions to the proposal were largely positive and viewed as a solid step toward a future that incorporates more renewable power.

Solar Panel

It appears that purchasers of Alabama Power’s renewable energy offerings will either pay a premium, or the company could use the large scale renewable to incentivize companies under mandates to “help keep or grow jobs”, according to Alabama Power Vice President of Regulatory and Corporate Affairs Nick Sellers. Sellers went on to say that the cost of the renewable projects – up to 80 megawatts each – would have to provide positive economic benefits to all APC customers and not be subsidized through general retail customer rates.

“This proposal provides a common-sense path for expanding renewables in Alabama. The Public Service Commission has been clear that they do not want renewables to be subsidized by all of our customers,” explains Alabama Power Vice-President of Regulatory and Corporate Affairs Nick Sellers. “This filing achieves that policy directive while also allowing for solar and new renewable energy projects that are expected to provide economic benefit for all of our customers.”

A number of reactions to the proposal are captured below, including an official statement from PACE.

Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy 

“PACE has consistently advocated for solar energy policies that make sense for all customer groups. We believe there is a right way to pursue solar power, as well as a wrong way. We supported efforts to build utility-scale solar power in New Orleans and we likewise applaud the proposal announced by Alabama Power. Utilities should be in the business of satisfying customer demand, but they shouldn’t ask customers who don’t want – or can’t afford – solar to pay for those who do. We look forward to hearing more details about this plan and working with the Public Service Commission to ensure it is implemented in a responsible way for customers.”

Conservation Alabama Executive Director Tammy Herrington

“This is the beginning of what we would like to see as a long-term change in how Alabama produces and uses energy. Alabama Power is signaling their commitment to renewable energy, and we look forward to working with them to expand this program to make our state a leader in solar energy.”

Alabama House Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford

“The proposal by Alabama Power to seek approval for up to 500 megawatts of solar power over the next six years is an exciting development for our state and many of its electricity customers. It is a win for the environment, for local jobs, and for our state’s future. With solar, as with any emerging technology, it is vitally important to make sure that programs that benefit some don’t do so at a higher cost to others. By making sure that these new solar power additions don’t affect prices for non-solar customers, this proposal is not only environmentally progressive, but economically fair.”

Manufacture Alabama President George Clark

“We are pleased with the direction Alabama Power has taken in proposing to expand its renewable portfolio. The proposal is sensitive to the fact that while some manufacturers want to take advantage of emerging technologies like solar power, others prefer traditional power sources. We believe strongly that those who want renewable power should pay the associated costs, as opposed to all customers bearing the financial burden. Alabama Power should be commended for moving forward to meet customer demand for renewable power while also maintaining the supply of reliable, affordable electricity manufacturers expect and deserve.”

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Darrio Melton

I am pleased to learn the news that our state’s largest utility, Alabama Power, is proposing to add as much as 500 megawatts of solar power to its energy offerings in the next six years. This is a positive step forward for energy diversity in our state and welcome news for those who want to be see more renewable energy deployed in Alabama in a responsible and sustainable way.

I particularly applaud the steps Alabama Power appears to have taken to ensure that its proposal to deploy more renewables doesn’t burden working families and other customers with higher costs. I have expressed serious concerns that Alabama could follow the lead of other states and deploy solar power in a way that shifts costs to lower-income customers, but this proposal appears to protect against that possibility.