- Southern Power is considering bidding on solar energy projects in Georgia that regulators want to see built by utility Georgia Power as part of the state's long-term energy plan, according to documents filed with the Public Service Commission (PSC). Southern Power is the wholesale energy unit of Southern Co., while Georgia Power is one if the Atlanta-based company's regulated utilities.
- The Georgia PSC convinced Georgia Power to agree to add 525 megawatts of solar to its system. An independent evaluator named by the PSC would examine bids to build the capacity.
- Historically, Southern Co. and its utilities have not supported renewable energy development, arguing that the South's climate is unsuited for solar and that the technology was too expensive compared with power from its coal-fired generation fleet.
Oddly, the solar cause has been taken up by the Tea Party, which wants to see competition to Georgia Power's state-regulated monopoly. Atlanta Tea Party Patriots co-founder Debbie Dooley expressed concern that the bidding process could pose the potential for a conflict of interest. "The bottom line is we need competition to Georgia Power," Dooley said. "If they want to come in and have a subsidiary bid on this, they're entitled to do that. But they need to recuse themselves completely from the process."