- Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed House Bill 57, recently passed unanimously by the state’s General Assembly, which will allow third party ownership (TPO) of solar. TPO is a finance plan allowing homes and businesses to host solar with no upfront costs or ownership responsibilities.
- After previous failed efforts to enact the law, passage was made possible when a compromise was struck between solar advocates and Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company and the state’s dominant electricity provider. The utility had previously blocked the law in the legislature.
- The compromise deal, vital in removing Georgia Power’s opposition, limits TPO financing to residential solar installations no larger than 10 kilowatts. Commercial-industrial systems cannot generate more than 125% of the system host’s electricity use.
24 states plus DC and Puerto Rico allow TPO, according to DSIRE. Georgia is the 25th.
In November, Pew named Georgia – without TPO – the fastest growing solar market in America. It has attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in investment and grew solar sector employment 225% in 2014.
Third party ownership is expected to spark even more solar growth in Georgia, as it has in many other states where it was newly enacted. TPO represented about three-fourths of the sector's volume in 2014, according to the annual U.S. Solar Market Insight Report.
But, GTM Research VP Shayle Kann recently told Utility Dive the finance plan has peaked nationally. With the many new loan opportunities now offered by solar companies, he said, the 2015 market will start to turn back toward direct ownership.
Another concern about TPO’s future are the many utility efforts to eliminate net energy metering and institute demand charges for solar owners. With the extra charges and without retail rate remuneration for electricity their solar sends to the grid, TPO financing’s narrow margin is sharply compromised.