OAKWOOD - The future for solar energy is bright but needs to go further; that was the message at a panel discussion on solar held at Lanier Technical College Monday in Oakwood.
The discussion featured Public Service Commission members and industry and legislative leaders. The almost capacity audience had plenty of questions about why solar was not playing a bigger role in Georgia energy.
A Hall County solar service owner heard directly from the policy and lawmakers about the current state of solar energy and then had some direct questions.
Gary Peters with All American Solar Services said Georgia homeowners and small business owners should also receive subsidies and tax credits for solar energy that big installations get, adding, change is needed.
"We've been taking baby steps on all this," according to Peters. "We know what it's like, we know what its worth for us and we need to start taking giant steps now instead of the baby steps we've taken in the past."
Solar discussion panelists included Public Service Commission Chairman Chuck Eaton. Eaton said it was obvious at this solar program at Lanier Tech that people in the audience supported more solar.
"The Commission is looking at new energy alternatives such as solar but we're trying to do it in a conservative, responsible way that doesn't push up folks' rates," Eaton said.
Eaton said the cost of solar energy in the past seven years has dropped 75 percent and its time to take another look at it.
"If you were opposed to solar say five years ago I would take another look at it today," Eaton said. "The numbers make more sense. It's not anything we need to 'jump in headfirst at the deep end over' but it's definitely something we need to be looking at for a diversified portfolio of energy."
Sam Ajlani, Lanier Tech's Lead Solar Technology Instructor, moderated the program and said students he's teaching should look forward to a really good career because solar has a bright future.
"Solar is here to stay," Ajlani said. "Georgia is not where we need to be but we're getting there and this is a start today. If we can set up some sort of production facility, like solar farms, that's a start to get solar progressing. Then more people will start seeing the advantage of solar."