6/30/15—ATLANTA (AP) – The largest Southern Co. subsidiary will start selling and installing solar panels on homes Wednesday, a move that could broaden the alternative energy market and also worry the utility’s competitors.
The decision is perhaps as symbolic as it is financial. Southern Co. is one of the largest U.S. utilities, burns significant fossil fuels and is led by a CEO who once dismissed the importance of small-scale solar energy.
Company officials now see distributed solar power as a threat to its traditional business model, and a new state law taking effect Wednesday allows Georgia residents to lease solar panels from firms other than electric monopolies. The Republican politicians who regulate Georgia’s power market have successfully pressured Georgia Power to add more solar energy to its mix.