The Economic Impact of Solar Energy Development in the Southern U.S.

Ed Rottmann

The power load our economy requires for growth is going to either be a limiting factor we have to deal with or a prime enabler for the U.S.  All the major technological advancements we are looking at as a society require an incredible amount of energy.  Whether it is Artificial Intelligence (AI), Electric Vehicles (EV’s), or the onshoring of manufacturing, those critical advancements will all drive up our required energy load dramatically.  Our future economy is going to be run on clean energy, so the necessary investments we make in the generation of this clean power or the transmission infrastructure will impact our country for the next century.  

I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative impact of solar energy on the southern U.S. economy. The region’s embrace of solar power is not just an environmental win; it’s a major economic driver, providing a host of benefits from job creation to investment opportunities.

A prime example of this impact is the partnership between Chroma Energy Group and REC Solar. We recently completed three significant solar projects in North Georgia as part of Georgia Power’s Renewable Energy Development Initiative (REDI) program. These projects, Whitfield Cooper, Gordon Pine Hall, and Chattooga Gore, feature a combined total of 17,160 solar modules, offering a solar capacity of 7.9 MWdc. This partnership is a testament to the growing influence of solar energy in the region.

Economic Benefits of Solar Energy in the South

  • Job Creation: The solar sector has become a significant job creator. Our projects in Georgia, for example, engaged local labor, providing invaluable training and employment in solar installation. This not only supports local economies but also builds a skilled workforce for the future of energy.
  • Investment Opportunities: Solar projects attract substantial investments. Through our collaboration with REC Solar, financed through a 30-year Power Purchase Agreement with Georgia Power, we’ve shown how public-private partnerships can successfully drive solar energy adoption. These investments help in modernizing the local energy infrastructure and promote further economic growth.
  • Supporting Local Communities: Beyond direct financial benefits, solar energy projects contribute to community development. They provide clean, reliable energy and help reduce electricity costs, which can be particularly beneficial for low-income communities.
  • Economic Diversification: The growth of solar energy leads to economic diversification. By reducing reliance on traditional energy sources, states can create a more resilient and diverse economy better prepared for future challenges.
  • Innovation and Technology Development: The solar energy sector is a hotbed for innovation. Companies like Chroma Energy Group are at the forefront of developing new technologies and solutions, which can have broader applications and drive economic growth beyond the energy sector.

The Future of Solar in the South

The southern U.S. is ideally positioned to lead in solar energy, thanks to its abundant sunshine and supportive policies. As the region continues to embrace solar power, we can expect to see further economic benefits, including more job opportunities, increased investments, and greater community development.

The partnership between Chroma Energy Group and REC Solar in Georgia is just the beginning. We are committed to continuing our work in expanding solar energy’s reach and its positive impact on the economy in the Southern States.

Solar Energy Challenges to Address in the South

These benefits and opportunities can also be challenges that need to be addressed.  Employment opportunities can also be looked at through the need for workforce development. If we do not invest in training individuals, there will be a workforce shortage that will constrain our energy transition.  Investment Opportunities can also be looked at as the need for capital.  The energy transition will require capital and we need to make sure we continue to create policies that promote the investment of capital into clean energy projects.  The last challenge I think that is important to mention (and could derail prosperous economic development in the southeast) is the regulatory environment.  We need to eliminate the red tape and overly burdensome roadblocks to getting projects approved.  

Every opportunity comes with unique challenges, but there is so much positive momentum in the southeast with clean energy.  This is a fantastic time to live in Tennessee and I am really proud of the progress we have made as a region and as a company over the last year.  Chroma is positioned to be a key partner as we make take this important step forward as a nation.