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Legislator tapped for solar panel study committee

CUMMING — District 24 state Rep. Mark Hamilton has been tapped to serve on the Solar Panel Study Committee, looking into the future of solar technology.

“I am honored to be appointed to this subcommittee and want to thank Representative Mike Dudgeon for bringing forth this legislation,” Hamilton said.

Both he and Dudgeon, who represents District 25, are Republicans from Forsyth County.

Hamilton went on to note that solar power is “a cost-effective source of energy, and citizens should have the freedom to use it to power their homes.”

The subcommittee was created after Dudgeon’s House Bill 874 failed to clear the chamber this session. The measure would help people access solar energy, but it could also open some loopholes, which is why further study was required.

The bill would have allowed retail electric customers to install solar technology to generate electricity for their own properties.

The technology could be financed through a loan, lease, power purchase agreement or other financing arrangement under the bill, which also would prohibit an electric service provider from interfering with the installation or financing.

“There were still concerns with it,” Hamilton said. “The hope and intention is that this study committee would come up with either an appropriate compromise or new language so that a new bill would be able to be introduced next year that would help satisfy needs.”

The seven-person subcommittee will be chaired by Rep. Harry Geisinger, a Roswell Republican. The other representatives include: Robert Dickey, R-Musella; Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates; Ben Harbin, R-Evans; Susan Holmes, R-Monticello; and Earnest Smith, D-Augusta.

“Technology has improved so much over the last few years in solar energy,” Hamilton said. “And with that, cost has come down dramatically, so that it’s getting close to being affordable to many consumers.

“The challenge then, is we want to balance how we provide this solar opportunity to businesses and consumers, while at the same time understanding that there’s a tremendous amount of capital already invested in infrastructure across the state that we need to make sure we don’t jeopardize.”

The subcommittee will work in the interim leading up to the 2015 Georgia General Assembly.