(Media release from the Georgia Public Service Commission):

The Georgia Solar Energy Association has named Public Service Commission Vice Chairman Tim Echols its Solar Advocate of the Year.

Echols, from the day he took office in 2011, has made solar a top priority in his service to Georgia. That contribution has been significant. In fact, before he took office, he installed solar thermal on his Winterville home. In the summer of 2011, he rented the Sam Shortline train dubbing it the “Solar Express” and conducted a solar seminar in Plains, Ga.

Echols was the swing vote that Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald needed to jumpstart the utility-scale solar market. That program will grow to 7,800 megawatts by 2029 generating $12 billion.

In 2016, Echols made a motion to create “The Ray” Roadside solar program, then led the way to get pollinators as ground cover. He initiated a charity effort to install a solar array for the Hog Hammock Gullah Geechee community on Sapelo Island. Then in 2019, Echols did what no one had been able to do previously – he proffered a motion to create a monthly net metering pilot program. It passed and became wildly successful. 

Echols talks about solar every week on his Cox Media-produced “Energy Matters” show, now with over 200 episodes in circulation. He created the Clean Energy Roadshow, which features alternative-fuel vehicles and has traveled the state for 12 years.

“Commissioner Echols has been a strong supporter of solar for years,” said Don Moreland of the Solar Association.  “No public official is more deserving of this award and it is long overdue.”

Echols said the Public Service Commission has taken a market-driven approach to solar power that does not include subsidies and does not put pressure on ratepayers.

“Solar done right makes sense for Georgia, and our Commission has been measured and deliberate in growing solar differently than states like California,” Echols said. “I want to continue to champion clean energy as Georgia moves into the future.”