Atlanta set to belatedly embrace solar power

The US City of Atlanta is on the brink of implementing a new solar power plan after state representatives deemed the technology sufficiently advanced to make a positive impact.

Former State Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield (D-Atlanta), director of Atlanta’s Office of Sustainability, told Atlanta Progressive News that she’s working with various departments to finalize a plan to install solar panels at municipal buildings, landfills, water treatment plants, and airports.

“We see the potential for approximately 13 MW of solar capacity if the City executes the full range of solar options,” Benfield said in an email.

That’s enough to power about 2,132 homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The Office of Sustainability had considered solar power in the past but rejected it in 2012 due to perceived cost for the solar panel technology and the return that the city would receive from the installation of the panels. But recent innovations around the technology have seen a change of attitude.

Benfield said Quarles “was looking at engaging in the Advanced Solar Initiative, which offered less attractive financing options for the City.”

In 2013, Environment Georgia released a study showing that, by 2030, twenty-one percent of Atlanta’s electricity use, or 1,400 MW, could be generated by solar panels if they were installed on municipal buildings, businesses, and homes.

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