Solar power advocates called for the law to require utilities to disclose more information on their websites so that it is easier for customers to evaluate whether a solar installation will save money.
Under the 2015 law, a third-party company pays to install panels on the customer’s roof or land, and keeps ownership of the system. The company then sells solar power to the customer or collects lease payments under a long-term contract.
Utilities like Georgia Power, which are state-regulated monopolies, had previously argued such arrangements violated their right to be the only power provider.
Thursday, a Georgia Power executive said electricity rates in Georgia are cheaper than the national average, making it difficult for solar power leasing to be work economically.
“That’s the obstacle,” said Norrie McKenzie, Georgia Power vice president of renewable development.
But solar power advocates said that the roughly 90 electric utility companies, cooperatives and city-owned utilities operating in the state have developed a plethora of fees and requirements that discourage solar projects.
“It is difficult to get basic information,” said Jason Rooks, with the Georgia Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group for solar power providers.
He said some utilities’ policies, especially in some rural areas and small towns, are punitive and appear to be aimed at discouraging solar projects.
“Their reasoning for doing it is you’re not buying power from them,” he said.