Georgia’s Solar Power Free-Market Financing Act of 2015: Would Kentucky Benefit from a Similar Act?

By: Ross Bundschuh

In July, the Georgia Legislature enacted the Solar Power Free-Market Financing Act of 2015.[i]  The purpose of the Act is to encourage a more affordable use of solar power in Georgia by allowing residents and businesses to lease solar technology from third party solar panel companies.[ii]  The Act ensures that residents and businesses do not have to bear the considerable initial cost of purchasing, installing, or maintaining the solar panels.[iii]  The ultimate goal of the Act is to allow consumers the opportunity to enjoy a fixed lease rate regardless of consumption volume, lowering electricity costs, and forcing conventional power suppliers to compete by lowering electricity prices.[iv]  While Georgia’s climate and economy render this Act favorable among Georgians, the Kentucky Legislature would have a much harder time passing such an act. 

First, Georgia has a solar potential ranging between 430 and 482-watt hours/ft2/day.[v]  This amount of energy means that 100,000 square feet of solar panels could provide energy for 1,000 to 1,300 houses per day.[vi]  Conversely, Kentucky has a solar potential ranging between 403 and 456-watt hours/ft2/day.[vii]  This amount of solar energy is sufficient for approximately 1,000 houses per day with 100,000 square feet of panels.[viii]  With the state solar potentials relatively similar, such an act is feasible regarding Kentucky’s climate. 

Second, Georgia’s primary sources of electricity are hydroelectric, natural gas, and petroleum.[ix]  Georgians paid an average of 13.28 cents per kilowatt-hour in July of 2015.[x]  On the other hand, Kentucky’s power plants primarily produce electricity using coal, hydroelectric, and natural gas, and paid an average of 9.96 cents per kilowatt-hour in July of 2015.[xi]  Therefore, with Kentucky’s low electricity rates, solar panel leasing companies may not be able to offer prices competitive with those of conventional power suppliers. 

Finally, a conversation about Kentucky energy cannot conclude without mentioning coal.  Kentucky is among the top coal-producing states in the nation.  The industry employs approximately 13,000 people in the state, and generated roughly $4.29 billion in revenue in 2013.[xii]  Furthermore, approximately 30% of Kentucky coal powers plants in the Commonwealth.[xiii]  Therefore, passing an act similar to that of the Solar Power Free-Market Financing Act would directly threaten Kentucky jobs and one of the Commonwealth’s largest sources of revenue.

Although Georgia’s Solar Power Free-Market Financing Act appears to be popular among State Legislature and Georgians alike, Kentucky’s dependency on coal as a job supplier and a revenue provider will not allow the Commonwealth to draft legislation that could potentially affect the coal industry in any way.  Currently, the Kentucky Legislature is proposing legislation to impose a state tax credit on residents utilizing solar systems, but this is a minor step that will not infringe on the coal industry due to the exorbitant purchase, installation, and maintenance prices of solar panels.[xiv]   Short of mine depletion or suffocating restrictions by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Commonwealth will continue to advocate for coal and discourage the use of alternative energy sources.

[i] Ga. Code Ann.  § 46-3-60 (West 2015).

[ii] Ga. Code Ann. § 46-3-64 (West 2015).

[iii] Id.

[iv] Ga. Code Ann. § 46-3-65 (West 2015).

[v] Solar Energy Potential, Dep’t of Energy, (last visited Sept. 29, 2015).

[vi] Id. 

[vii] Id.

[viii] Id. 

[ix] Georgia State Profile and Energy Estimates, U.S. Energy Info. Admin., (last visited Sept. 29, 2015).

[x] Electric Power Monthly, U.S. Energy Info. Admin., (last visited Sept. 29, 2015).

[xi] Kentucky State Profile and Energy Estimates, U.S. Energy Info. Admin., (last visited Sept. 29, 2015); Electric Power Monthly, supra note x.

[xii] See Ky. Dep’t. Energy Dev. & Indep., Ky. Coal Facts 32 (14th ed. 2014), availiable at

[xiii] Id. at 3.

[xiv] See Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 141.436 (West 2015) (proposed legislation).