Bill for home solar systems wins early backing

New legislation backed by power companies and solar advocates promises to make it easier and more affordable for Georgia homeowners and small businesses to put solar power systems on their rooftops.

At least that’s the hope with a bill unveiled Tuesday before a state house subcommittee. State Rep. Mike Dudgeon, R-Johns Creek, said he would submit the bill Wednesday. It clarifies how homeowners can get outside financing of small solar installations.

Solar advocates say one key to home systems is to make it easier to finance installation and equipment, which can cost $15,000 or more.

With financing, homeowners can avoid upfront costs and pay for their use of the system over time.

The bill soothes earlier concerns by Georgia Power and other utilities about the safety of new installations and their worries that the state would let in rival retail utilities.

Dudgeon said the bill’s chance of becoming law is “very high.” The legislation already has the backing of Georgia Power, an association of rural utilities, environmental groups and some solar businesses.

Georgia has become a national leader in adding new solar power. But the vast majority of the growth has been in large solar farms, not on home rooftops.

Dudgeon predicted the changes will have a dramatic impact on the number of home solar installations in Georgia.

“I think it is going to skyrocket,” he said.