Energy policy in Georgia

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Energy policy in Georgia
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Quick facts
Energy department: Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, Energy Resources Division[1]
State population: 10 million
Per capita income: $36,869
Energy consumption
Total energy consumption: 3.002 million BTU[2][3]
Per capita energy consumption: 306 million BTU
Energy spending
Total state energy spending: $42,405 million
Per capita energy spending: $4,322
Residential natural gas price: $20.57 per thousand cubic foot
Residential electricity price: 11.02 cents per kWh
See also
Energy on the ballot
Statewide fracking on the ballot
Local fracking on the ballot
Policypedia
Policypedia Energy logo.jpg
Energy Policy Project
Energy policy in the United States
Energy use in the United States
Energy terms and definitions
Energy policy in Georgia
Fracking in Georgia

Energy policy in Georgia depends on geography, natural energy resources, how electricity is generated, how much energy consumers use, politics and the influence of groups such as environmental and industry organizations. Decisions by policymakers, such as state and local governments, utilities and regulatory agencies, affect all citizens economically and environmentally, and are generally geared toward providing reliable, affordable energy. The cost of energy affects not only home heating and electricity bills, and thus disposable income, but also economic growth, including jobs, investment and the cost of doing business in the state.

How energy is produced and consumed also has an impact on the environment and pollution. Energy policy in Georgia, and many other states, focuses on decreasing emissions and dependence on fossil fuels by increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy. As the infrastructure for producing and delivering renewable energy sources is not as advanced as it is for energy generation from traditional sources, these policies often require subsidies to make the produced energy affordable, and their effects are difficult to measure.

Energy policy involves tradeoffs between providing an affordable, consistent energy supply on the one hand, and limiting pollution and protecting the environment, on the other. How states attempt to balance these two differs between states, and often boils down to costs to consumers versus costs to the environment. This article provides general energy information about the state as the context within which energy policy is made, as well as information about major legislation and public and private groups that play a role in setting energy policy in the state.

See also: Energy policy in the United States for more information on energy policy.
See also: Fracking in Georgia

Energy overview

State facts

Below are quick facts about Georgia’s energy climate.

Georgia

  • does not have fossil fuels.
  • has renewable energy in the form of biomass, biofuels, hydropower, wind and solar energy.
  • ranked ninth in total electricity generation in 2011.
  • ranked first in commercial timber, leading the nation in net electricity generation from wood and wood waste.
  • leads the nation in biomass electricity generation.
  • has two nuclear plants in operation and two under construction.
  • does not have a renewable energy portfolio standard.[4]

In Georgia

  • 10 percent of energy consumed in households is for air conditioning and 30 percent is for home space heating.
  • the transportation sector leads energy consumption in the state.
  • petroleum consumption is greater than all other sources and more than one-half is used for motor gasoline.
  • net total energy expenditures rank 10th in the United States.
  • electricity consumption ranked eighth among the states in 2011.[4]

Available energy resources

Georgia has no traditional energy resources such as oil, coal or natural gas. Because of the state’s access to the Mississippi River and Atlantic Coast it imports oil and coal. This lack of traditional energy resources means Georgia is a net energy importer, bringing in all the coal, natural gas and petroleum consumed in the state. There are some oil and natural gas operators looking to using fracking to extract oil and natural gas in Southern Georgia.[4][5]

Georgia has renewable energy resources that contributed about 5 percent of the energy for electricity in 2011 according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Georgia is forested with 25 million acres of woodland which provide fuel for biomass. There are two ethanol plants that convert corn into ethanol. Georgia also has thousands of dams and 14 river basins that generate hydroelectric power for the state.[4]

Consumption and prices

As shown on the pie chart in 2011, roughly one third of Georgia’s energy use was for transportation, and one quarter for industrial and residential each; the rest was used mostly in commercial buildings--for heating, cooling, lighting and other functions. Energy-intensive industries in the state include chemical, paper and metals manufacturing. Most of the energy used in the state is in the form of coal (used primarily for coal-fired power plants), followed by petroleum and natural gas.[4]

Energy consumption in Georgia
GA energy consumption chart.png

Legend[6]
     Transportation       Residential     Industrial       Commercial
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Gasoline, used in transportation, accounts for 50 percent of the petroleum consumed in the state. Specially blended gasoline is mandated in metropolitan regions and cities of Georgia like Atlanta. Generally the price of gasoline in the state tracks slightly below the national average.[7] According to the EIA's February 2014 report, the federal excise tax is 18.40 cents/gallon of gasoline and 24.40 cents/gallon of diesel fuel. Georgia has an excise tax of 7.5 cents per gallon gasoline, an added tax of 21 cents per gallon, making the total tax on gasoline 28.5 cents per gallon, the 20th highest in the nation.[8][9]

Comparisons tables

The table below compares Georgia’s consumption and spending for energy, as well as prices for gas and electricity, and carbon emissions to those of North Carolina, which has similar population, resources and consumption needs because of climate and geography. These two states are very similarly placed in the high-rank on population, overall consumption and overall spending. Also given are the U.S. averages and the state rankings. All rankings are from highest to lowest, so, for example:

  • Georgia’s rank of ninth in carbon emissions means that carbon emissions are higher in Georgia than in North Carolina, which has a ranking of 13th.
  • Likewise, per capita income in Georgia is lower than the national average, similarly to North Carolina, which at 39th ranks two places ahead of Georgia’s ranking of 41st in per capita income.
  • Total energy consumption in Georgia (at ninth) is somewhat higher than in North Carolina (at 12th), and total energy spending in Georgia is slightly higher since it ranks 10th to North Carolina’s ranking of 12th.
  • Natural gas prices are higher in Georgia, which was ranked at the eighth highest price in the nation and North Carolina at 20th.
  • Georgia and North Carolina have similarly lower-priced electricity, ranked at 34th and 31st respectively.
Consumption and Expenditures Comparisons Summary
Type GeorgiaNorth CarolinaU.S. Figures
FigureU.S. Rank*FigureU.S. Rank*Totals
Population10.0 million89.8 million10313.9 million
Per Capita Income Average$36,86941$37,04939$42,693
Total Consumption3,002 trillion BTU92,573 trillion BTU1297,301 quadrillion BTU
Per Capita Energy Consumption306 million BTU28267 million But38312 million BTU
Total Spending on Energy$42,405 million10$36,102 million12$1,394,088 million
Per Capita Spending on Energy$4,32230$3,74144$4,474
Price of Residential Natural Gas, dollar per thousand cubic feet$20.578$17.0020$12.48
Price of Electricity, cents per kWh11.023411.783112.31
Total Carbon Dioxide Emissions, million metric tons (2010)173.79142.9135,631
*Rank is from highest to lowest.

Almost 50 percent of homes in Georgia use natural gas to heat their homes. Electricity is the next most common heating source, followed by fuel oil, LPG, and other sources.

See also: State Energy Rankings to compare all 50 states
Consumption of energy for heating homes in Georgia
Source Georgia 2011 U.S. average 2011
Natural gas 40.7% 49.5%
Fuel oil 0.3% 6.5%
Electricity 52.4% 35.4%
Liquid Petroleum Gases (LPG) 5.2% 5%
Other/none 1.4% 3.6%

Production and transmission

Georgia produced 544.4 trillion BTU of energy in 2011. Of that 62 percent came from nuclear and just over 2 percent came from biofuels. The remaining 35 percent came from what the U.S. Energy Information Administration classifies as 'other,' which is "assumed to equal consumption of all renewable energies except biofuels."[10]

Energy production by type in Georgia, 2011
Type Amount Generated
(trillion BTU)
% of State % of USA
Nuclear 338.1 62.11% 4.09%
Biofuels 14.2 2.61% 0.74%
Other 192.1 35.29% 2.7%

Georgia's two nuclear power plants provide more than one quarter of the state's electricity. Two new nuclear reactors were announced to be built in February 2012 at the Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant in Burke County in eastern Georgia. They were approved for construction by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an independent agency created by Congress to ensure the safety of people and the environment. As of March 2014 these two new reactors are still under construction. In relation to resource-fired nuclear energy generation: coal accounts for nearly half, natural gas for more than 20 percent, and renewable resources for five percent.[11][12]

Coal production does not exist in Georgia, instead coal is imported by rail mainly from Wyoming, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Illinois. Coal is also imported through the Savannah Customs District from Latin America. Natural gas is pumped to Georgia through interstate pipelines owned by companies including East Tennessee Natural Gas Co., Southern Natural Co., Southern Carolina Pipeline Co. and Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Co. A variety of countries, including Trinidad, Tobago, Qatar, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria send liquified natural gas (LNG) to Georgia, which is then primarily sent to South Carolina and to markets further north.[4]

Renewable energy mainly consists of Georgia’s strong hydroelectric energy facilities. Georgia has countless dams and 14 river basins. Most hydroelectric energy facilities are built on the Chattahoochee River. Georgia also has 25 million acres of forest, covering about two-thirds of the state. Because of this, Georgia ranks first in commercial timberland in the United States. Wood and wood waste are used to generate biofuels. Included in this energy sector are Georgia's two ethanol plants: Southwest Georgia Ethanol, LLC in Camilla and Wind Gap Farms in Baconton. Southwest produces almost all of the production capacity of 100 million gallons which is less than one percent of the U.S. total. Offshore wind and solar energy have not yet been developed. The Atlantic shoreline has the possibility of producing an estimated amount of 1,000 gigawatts of energy. That is about six percent of the total energy generated by Georgia.[13][14][15]

Where electricity comes from in Georgia[16]
Type Amount generated (MWh) % of state** % of U.S.**
Natural gas-fired 3,598,000 38.04% 0.35%
Coal-fired 2,768,000 29.26% 0.16%
Nuclear 2,594,000 27.42% 0.33%
Hydroelectric 209,000 2.21% 0.07%
Other renewables 315,000 3.33% 0.16%
Total net electricity generation 9,459,000 100% 0.23%
**Note: Because the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) does not include all of a state's energy production in these figures, the EIA totals do not equal 100 percent. Instead, we have generated our own percentages.

There are currently 52 municipal electric utilities in Georgia, 42 electric membership corporations, and one investor-owned electric utility. For natural gas there is one investor-owned utility and 84 municipally-owned natural gas utilities.[17]

Most of the coal used in electricity generation is shipped into Georgia by rail from many states and transmission systems. The electric transmission system is interconnected to the Georgia Integrated Transmission System through Georgia Integrated Transmission System, Georgia Power Company (southern Company) Dalton Utilities, MEAG Power, or Georgia Transmission Corporation (GTC).[18]

Energy policy

Policy Issues
By comparing traditional and renewable energy costs, renewable energy often cannot compete with traditional sources because of high startup costs, hardware, labor, permitting and inspecting costs. The Georgia Tech Research Institute was awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Energy to cut costs and make renewable energy prices competitive with coal or fossil fuels in Georgia. The state meanwhile has not invested in a Renewable Portfolio Standard, and instead has focused on pursuing renewable energy through solar easements, public energy standards, and net metering rules.[19][20]
See also: Fracking in Georgia

Energy policy is made, executed and influenced by many organizations, both public and private, and is codified in the laws and regulations of the state. Each state’s energy policy involves tradeoffs in which energy production and prices are weighed against environmental concerns and efficiency. Georgia has been relatively progressive regarding energy efficiency and renewable energy use. Like most southeastern states, Georgia does not have a renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS) that would require investor-owned utilities and electric cooperatives to obtain a minimum of the electricity sold to customers to come from renewable energy resources.[21][22][23]

Georgia has created public energy standards for buildings, net metering rules, interconnection guidelines and solar easement regulations. Georgia ranked 33rd on the Energy Efficiency Scorecard produced by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.[24] There are differing estimates about the economic impact of these mandates in terms of costs that may affect prices and jobs. Thus, for example, there are many new studies of what is called the "rebound effect" which refers to the fact that "some of the theoretically estimated gains in energy efficiency will be eroded as consumers consume additional goods and services."[25][26]

Major legislation

  • Georgia Executive Order 01.24.08.02 (2008), known as the Governor's Energy Challenge, requires state departments and agencies to reduce energy consumption by 15 percent by 2020. This can be completed through efficiency measures and renewable energy development. Local governments, schools, individuals and business are not required to comply but are encouraged to participate.[27]
  • Georgia Cogeneration and Net Metering Act (2001), permits customers who produce their own energy to be compensated at a higher cost rate if the power is used to supply a green pricing program. Provided by this law, the customers can be compensated for all of the generated by from the system or any power produced in excess of on-site demands. Qualified technologies include solar photovoltaic, fuel cell and wind systems. For this program, wind power is allowed up to 10 kilowatts (kW) for residential and 100 kW for commercial.[28]
  • Georgia Cogeneration and Distributed Generation Act (2001), connects all qualified residential electricity customers to the state grid. Residents with wind-energy system, photovoltaic (PV) systems, or fuel cells up to 10 kilowatt kW in capacity and commercial facilities up to 100 kW qualify. This is limited to 0.2 percent aggregate capacity of distributed generation systems of a utility system's peak demand from the previous year. National standards must be complied with, including those set by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the Institute of Electrical and electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the National Electrical Safety Code (NEC). All requirements may change if seen fit by the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) by adopting additional safety, interconnection and power-quality requirements.[29]
  • The Solar Easements Act (1978), provided by the state's Environmental Finance Authority, determined that the use of solar energy "can help reduce the nation’s reliance upon imported fuels." This easement establishes the owners' right to negotiate for assurance of continued access to sunlight for their solar-energy systems. Any easement documents must be created in writing and subject to the same requirements of all other legal easements. The documents must also contain a description of the airspace provided by the easement and any terms and/or conditions under which the easement is granted or will be canceled.[30]

Ballot measures

Policypedia
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State energy policy

State fracking policy

Energy policy terms

Fracking in the U.S.

Energy use in the U.S.

Energy policy in the U.S.


See also
Local fracking on the ballot

Statewide fracking on the ballot

Below is a list of energy related ballot measures across Georgia. These ballot measures cover issues from fracking bans, to utilities and related tax questions.

Government agencies and committees

  • The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) is an independent regulatory agency that has been regulating Georgia cities' public utilities since 1879. Fifty-two of Georgia’s cities supply electric service to their customers but do not come under PSC jurisdiction with the exception that mandates they file their rates and territorial areas. Types of utilities regulated include electric, natural gas, water, combined water and sewer utilities and certain aspects of local telephone service. More than 2,000 utilities are under the agency's jurisdiction. The PSC is composed of five elected commissioners who decide the cases brought to the PSC for changes in utility operations, rates and for construction projects. Commissioners are elected statewide and serve staggered six-year terms. The commissioners’ office under the direction of a chairperson, who is appointed by the governor for a two-year term, has oversight of all PSC staff and related activities.[32]
  • The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) that serves as Georgia’s state energy office, coordinates the state's energy programs that protect and improve Georgia’s energy, water and land resources.[33]
  • The Georgia Department of Natural Resources carries out the policies set by the state Board of Natural Resources for regulating natural resource extraction and state parks. The commissioner oversees the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The commissioner oversees six divisions.[34]

Major organizations

  • The Strategic Energy Institute (SEI) is a research institute founded in 2005 at Georgia Tech University. A diverse team of energy-related researchers create sustainable, reliable, affordable and integrated solutions to energy demands and resources. Academic disciplines support research and laboratories across the nation and a network of government and industries foster the SEI Institute. Their mission includes offering high-impact solutions to urgent energy issues through creating technologies, education programs and policies.[35]
  • The Georgia Solar Energy Association (GSEA) was founded in 2002 and represents more than 300 organizations, businesses and individuals in Georgia. They support the environmental and economic benefits of solar energy. The organization is governed by the Georgia state chapter of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and a board of state directors. They have worked with the Georgia Public Service Commission and found funding for renewable energy programs.[36]
  • Georgia Energy Data was developed as a partnership between Georgia State University’s Geospatial Laboratory and Southface. Southface presents comprehensive data on Georgia’s solar dataset from disparate and multiple sources. The partnership develops easily understood state energy consumption information in the form of charts, tables and maps. The partnership focuses on the state's electricity generation and solar assets.[37]
  • Growing Georgia is part of the agriculture industry and focuses on finding solutions to agriculture-related energy issues within the state. The organization reaches out out to agribusiness owners, policymakers, community leaders and growers from all over the Georgia. They focus on publishing news, research, analysis and commentary from the best minds in the agriculture industry.[38]

In the news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Georgia+Energy+Policy"

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Georgia Energy News Feed

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See also

External links

References

  1. National Association of State Energy Officials, "Georgia," accessed March 9, 2014
  2. These figures come from the U.S. Energy Information Administration State Profiles and Energy Estimates, Georgia Overview. Statistics for population and per capita income are for the year 2012; consumption and spending estimates are for 2011; and prices are for October 2013. Updated pricing information is available on the state's EIA profile. Prices will be updated on this page biannually.
  3. U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Georgia Overview," accessed February 28, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Georgia Profile Analysis," December 18, 2013
  5. Times Free Press, "Gas drillers turn to northwest Georgia," accessed March 17, 2014
  6. This chart depicts the state's energy consumption as reported by the EIA for 2011. Click the image to enlarge.
  7. To compare current gasoline prices in Georgia to the U.S averages, go to GasBuddy.com
  8. U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Petroleum Marketing Monthly," February 2014, accessed February 14, 2014
  9. Tax Foundation, "State Gasoline Tax Rates, 2009-2013," March 21, 2013, accessed February 19, 2014
  10. U.S. Energy Information Administration, "State Energy Data System, Production," accessed February 18, 2014
  11. United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, "About NRC," accessed March 4, 2014
  12. Georgia Power, "Plant Vogtle," accessed May 5, 2014
  13. U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Georgia Overview", accessed February 28, 2014
  14. Office of Nebraska Government, "Ethanol Facilities Capacity by State and Plant," accessed March 9, 2014
  15. Georgia Coastal Research Council, "Offshore Wind Energy: Considerations for Georgia," accessed March 9, 2014
  16. These figures come from the EIA State Profiles and Energy Estimates U.S. Energy Information Administration, Georgia Overview, accessed February 28, 2014
  17. Georgia Public Service Commission, "What is Regulated by the PSC?," accessed February 28, 2014
  18. Georgia Integrated Transmission system (ITS), "Meeting Reference Slides," accessed February 28, 2014
  19. Georgia Tech, "Carbon-Neutral Energy solutions Lab Unlocks the Potential of Clean Energy," October 2013, accessed March 16, 2014
  20. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  21. According to a report called "The Status of Renewable Electricity Mandates in the States," by the free-market Institute for Energy Research, the cost of electricity in states with RPS were on average 38 percent higher in 2010 than in states without a RPS.
  22. Institute for Energy Research, "The Status of Renewable Electricity Mandates in the States," accessed March 24, 2014
  23. Manhattan Institute, "The High Cost of Renewable-Energy Mandates," February 2012
  24. For a full explanation of how the ACEEE calculates this ranking see the executive summary of their report here: http://aceee.org/files/pdf/summary/e13k-summary.pdf
  25. International Risk Governance Council, "The Rebound Effect: Implications of Consumer Behavior for Robust Energy Policies," accessed March 3, 2014
  26. Scientific American, "How Bad Is the Rebound from Energy Efficiency Efforts?," May 21, 2013
  27. National Conference of State Legislatures, "Georgia," November 2013
  28. State Environmental Resource Center, "Georgia," accessed March 9, 2014
  29. Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency, "Interconnection Guidelines," April 2013, accessed February 28, 2014
  30. Energy Department, "Solar Easements," accessed February 28, 2014
  31. Georgia House of Representatives, "House Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications," accessed February 28, 2014
  32. Georgia Public Service Commission, "An Introduction to the PSC", accessed February 28, 2014
  33. Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, About Us, accessed February 28, 2014
  34. Georgia Code, "12-2-1," accessed September 16, 2011
  35. Georgia Tech University, "Strategic Energy Institute," accessed February 28, 2014
  36. Georgia Solar Energy Association, "About GSEA," accessed February 28, 2014
  37. Georgia Energy Data, "About," accessed February 28, 2014
  38. Growing Georgia, "About Growing Georgia," accessed February 28, 2014