Renewable Energy Technology Incentives in Georgia
With just 6% of its energy provided by renewable technologies such as solar, Georgia lags behind many states who have set strict targets for the next ten to fifteen years. The state depends heavily on natural gas and nuclear, some would say to an unhealthy degree. The latter accounts for 26% of electricity generation and legislation has just been passed to build two more nuclear reactors in the next few years.
Georgia, despite its failings, is however the third biggest producer of electricity from biomass and benefits from thriving lumber and pulpwood industries. Although the state has a number of incentives in place to promote renewable energy technology things are still pretty limited. Some utility companies are starting to actively invest in solar which could, hopefully, bring a cleaner mix to the energy portfolio. Solar has suffered in the past because of lack of legislation and the fact that Georgia has some of the lowest electricity prices in the US.
Having said that, Georgia does have 186 companies in the solar industry that employ nearly 3,000 people. The installed capacity is still low however compared to other states at just 204 MW, putting Georgia 15th in the country. The biggest installation is Simon Solar Farm which went online in 2013 and has a capacity of 30 MW.
Solar PV Incentives in Georgia
For a long time, the costs that had to paid up front for residential solar made it largely unattractive. A bill was passed in Senate in 2015 which meant that those who want solar panels could sign a contract with a local supplier to have it installed for free – the supplier benefits from the numerous incentives and the customer essentially leases the panels and gets cheaper electricity. This may well give the solar industry a boost in the state. Currently, the incentives for solar PV include the Federal Tax Rebate and the Photovoltaic Rebate Program run by Central Georgia that provides $450 per kW of installed capacity. There are also low interest loans available through areas such as local PACE financing.
Solar PV Case Study in Georgia
Return on investment for solar PV is problematic at the moment because the state has the lowest electricity prices in the country. The cost of a 5 kW array is higher than many other states at $20,000 and even with the reduction through the Federal Tax Rebate and other incentives you are looking at a much longer time before you start getting a return on investment. Having said that, you should expect to make a profit over the 25-year lifespan on the array of around $6,600.
Solar Thermal Incentives in Georgia
Solar water heating is relatively successful in Georgia and there a few incentives to encourage people to swap. Central Georgia EMC run a Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program for solar thermal and geothermal heat pumps for residential properties. You also benefit from the standard Federal Tax Rebate that comes with other renewable installations.
Small Hydro Incentives in Georgia
Georgia has a wide range of large scale hydroelectric plants across the state and has abundant water resources to make this one of the most viable areas of electricity production, although it still only supplies around 2% of the total mix. Georgia is well placed for developing micro-hydro and benefits from the Federal Tax Rebate particularly for those living in remote and off-grid areas.
Geothermal Incentives in Georgia
Ground source heat pumps are well supported by incentives from the state. A number of utility companies offer some form or rebate or incentive for installed ground source heat pumps including Diverse Power. There are issues surrounding the installation of this technology, not just the amount of land needed but also the insulation of the property which needs to be to a high standard to prevent heat loss. For those that do have a suitable property and with incentives such as the Federal Tax Rebate it’s a great way to reduce heating costs and benefit the environment.
Biomass Incentives in Georgia
Because of its abundant natural resources, Georgia has a growing biomass industry. Both commercial and residential biomass are exempt from sales tax as long as it is used in the production of energy. Large corporations and agricultural ventures can also take advantage of the Biorefinery Assistance Program which can provide loans of up to $250,000.
Wind Power Incentives in Georgia
Georgia has one wind farm that produces 20 MW capacity and so there isn’t much contribution here to the energy mix of the state. Community projects have been undertaken in the past including the Georgia Mountain Wind partnership that had four turbines installed in Chittenden and Franklin Counties and which is locally owned by businesses. Wind power benefits from the Federal Tax Rebate and access to development loans. The cost of installing a wind turbine can be quite large at $7,000 per kW installed but the return on investment can be good if you have enough wind strength to produce sufficient electricity.
Georgia, like many of the states in the south east, has lagged behind in some respects when it comes to renewables. A large part of the failure for solar to be taken up comes from the cheaper cost of electricity that makes it less attractive as a capital venture. There are incentives out there, however, for those who want a cleaner way of lighting and heating their homes.
You can find out more about all the renewable technology incentives offered by Georgia on the DSIRE website.