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Georgia Power May Buy 210 Megawatts of Solar by 2017

Southern Co., the second-largest U.S. power company by market value, is seeking permission to purchase as much as 210 megawatts of solar power by 2017.

The company’s Georgia Power unit, based in Atlanta, submitted plans to regulators to buy 70 megawatts of capacity a year starting in 2015, according to a statement yesterday.

If approved, the Advanced Solar Initiative would be the largest voluntary purchase of solar energy by an investor-owned utility in the U.S., Georgia Power said. Utilities in some other states are required to buy electricity generated from renewable sources. Georgia doesn’t have a state renewable portfolio standard, as such polices are known.

The program “will encourage new opportunities for solar development” in the state, Georgia Power Chief Executive Officer Paul Bowers said in the statement. The initiative must be approved by the Georgia Public Service Commission.

PG&E Corp.’s Pacific Gas & Electric Co. installed 288 megawatts of solar power last year, the most of any utility, according to an April report from the Solar Electric Power Association. The state requires utilities to obtain 33 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020.

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