What is renewable energy and how do we use it?
Renewable energy harnesses naturally-replenishing resources of the earth to generate power (in contrast to nonrenewable sources like fossil fuels). There are five main types of renewable energy that are used in the United States: solar, wind, hydroelectric, biomass, and geothermal.
So far, Athens-Clarke County has been involved in both solar, biomass and geothermal projects within Athens-Clarke County facilities. The Sustainability Office is proud to support local projects in our community that change the way our city uses energy. In early 2019, the Mayor signed Sierra Club's Mayors for 100% Clean Energy Initiative, which is the first step towards 100% clean, renewable energy use in Athens by 2035. The next step for ACCUG is for the Commission to approve a proclamation and set goals for how to meet this goal. However, long before this initiative was signed, our intentions have always been to steward our resources well and find new ways to use these resources in the most efficient ways possible to protect our community and the environment.
Solar Energy in Athens
Athens-Clarke County is committed to adding renewable energy to our operations and to ensuring our citizens have easy access to solar energy systems for private use.
Athens-Clarke County has been awarded SolSmart status in recognition of our support for the solar industry. The Sustainability Office worked with the International City/County Manager’s Association to complete the application. Athens-Clarke County was recognized as one of the top 100 communities for supporting solar in America. Athens-Clarke County scored very well on its permitting and zoning requirements and was recognized for having a path for same-day permit approval with an average residential permit costing under $100. This is a result of actions the Building and Permits Inspection and Planning Departments implemented to streamline solar energy permitting in 2015. The community received additional qualifying points for deploying solar on public facilities, participating in the Solarize Athens bulk buying program, and for UGA’s support of a solar demonstration project in Athens-Clarke County.
For more information on how we're working towards these goals, explore recent and upcoming renewable energy projects in Athens-Clarke County.
How can I use solar energy in my home?
Interested homeowners can see if solar energy is right for them using resources such as Georgia Power's and Jackson EMC's online tools. Further, Georgia Energy Data provides an interactive map for you to explore solar installations, capacity, installers, and manufacturers in your area.
Solar projects in Georgia are covered by a variety of state and local laws.
In Georgia, the Solar Energy Free-Market Financing Act defines how entities can use solar energy procurement agreements to "lease solar" or otherwise purchase solar energy from a system they do not own.
In Georgia, the Solar Easements Act creates a process to develop voluntary solar easements to ensure sunlight can continue to reach a solar energy system throughout its operating life.
A full view of national solar access laws is available from the Solar America Board for Codes and Standards.