Georgia’s Clean Energy Potential

Posted on September 27th, 2012 by

Energy is a driving force behind our nation –– our dependence on it and our ability to develop new ways for harnessing and producing it are all pivotal forces behind our strength as a nation. Current energy policies for transportation fuels like oil are set largely by national policies, such as mileage efficiency standards and requirements for blending bio-fuels.

By contrast, energy for other uses is governed mainly at the state level.  If we want to use energy more wisely in the United States, we must pay attention to the individual 50 states where Public Service Commissions regulate the use of electricity and natural gas and often provide policy guidance for their state legislatures.

To adopt policies favorable to national security, economic growth and a cleaner environment, all states should be actively promoting energy conservation and efficiency, the most cost-effective “new” energy.  States should also promote fuel diversity –– including the use of renewable energy like bio-fuels, wind and solar –– and they should be creating environments where the energy of the future can grow and strive in ways that contribute to local economies.

My home state, Georgia, has some of the nation’s best resources for addressing these problems.  Currently, the University of Georgia and others are conducting innovative work on bio-fuels, Georgia Tech is providing leadership on a wide variety of energy technologies and Emory University’s commitment to sustainable development has led to buildings that must be LEED certified and ambitious programs to reduce its carbon footprint.  All of these programs stand out nationally for their accomplishments.

Georgia’s private sector has also demonstrated national and international leadership.  Atlanta based company General Electric has an energy business that exemplifies industry leadership in diverse areas like efficient electric generation and alternative energy resources.  Solar companies like Suniva are driving up the efficiency of cells and driving down the cost.  However, the success of these companies illustrates a recurring problem –– they are doing a great job of exporting their products elsewhere, but doing relatively little business in their home state.

The missing ingredient in Georgia’s energy medley is the lack of a regulatory system that recognizes the value of clean energy, energy efficiency and fuel diversity.  The statistical formulas used by the public service to set policy do not do this, and a majority of commissioners have shown little interest in modernizing the state’s approach to energy.

I want to fill that gap, by bringing a fresh voice to the Georgia Public Service, taking advantage of the immense resources we have in our state, and putting Georgia in the forefront of wise energy use.

If you want to learn more about my campaign to fulfill Georgia’s energy potential check out my website.


Dr. Stephen Oppenheimer, is running to be on the Public Utility Commission of Georgia. The thoughts and opinions in this piece are his own. Steve can be reached at or by phone 404-772-2103.

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One Person has left comments on this post

» Suresh said: { Oct 2, 2012 - 04:10:56 }

Good points Steve. Our policies are our biggest barrier to our growth.

I sincerely believe that ‘Energy issue’ is really made out to be more complex than it really is. Too much talk but not much real action. TWO points:

1. With our immensely rich R&D platform, innovative hands-on product development capability, and infinite entrepreneurial strengths – there is no reason why we should lNOT be leading the world. But, we are not. Reason: Our policies are backwards. We have allowed China and others to move ahead in recent times. GEORGIA (and, SouthEast) in general has the opportunity to be a “role-model” clean energy economy provided we put right policies in place.

2. Concept of ‘Energy Intensity’ and ‘Power Density’ are key to understand … and so are the polcity making opportunities in RES, Energy Savings and Consumer-driven incentives. However, what is not needed … skewed subsidies to one industry or the other … that artificially create renewable solutions which are unable to stand on their own feet … thats poor policy. Bold, science-driven and business-savvy policies to make clean energy that is compatible with environment is possible. Those technologies and solutions exist.

We need policy makers who are aware, progressive and willing to make those steps.

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