Renewable energy generation in the right-of-way of the Interstate System has never been implemented in Georgia, although our state’s ample sunshine and open right-of-way spaces gives us the perfect platform for imagining roadside solar as an innovative way to expand our access to alternative energy. A half-dozen similar projects, which generate clean solar energy at a competitive price along highways and roads, are operational nationwide in two states, Oregon and Massachusetts.
ALONG THE RAY
In an unprecedented move in September 2016, GPSC approved a pilot project for Georgia Power to install one megawatt of solar generation in the right-of-way alongside The Ray in Troup County. Construction on this ambitious project will begin in early 2019. Interagency cooperation and partnership between the GPSC and Georgia DOT has paved the way and will continue to bring the ROW solar plans to life. Not only will this project be the first of its kind in the Southeast, but it will be the first to use pollinator plants as the ground cover management strategy. This will create habitat for critical pollinating species, better maintain the soil around the panels, reduce maintenance cost associated with regular mowing, and beautify our road.
The Ray’s one megawatt right-of-way solar site is only the beginning of our ambitions. We have partnered with the Webber Group at the University of Texas Austin to analyze each mile of right-of-way throughout the United States for its potential as a site for solar energy generation. The results will be presented to state departments of transportation and to the public through an online tool as well as a report in 2019.