Kristi E. Swartz, E&E reporter
EnergyWire: Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Georgia-based solar company will help install rooftop solar panels at 18 federal government buildings as part of the Obama administration’s efforts to expand clean energy use across federal agencies, military bases and other government buildings.Atlanta’s Inman Solar is teaming up with WGL Energy Systems Inc. to install the panels by the end of the year. The General Services Administration awarded WGL the contract as part of the government’s Capital Solar Challenge.

WGL Energy will own and operate the solar panels and sell the power under 10-year agreements with an option to extend for an additional 10 years. The panels are expected to produce more than 3,750 megawatt-hours of solar a year, which is equal to powering roughly 200 homes.

GSA is a longtime customer of WGL. The Washington-based energy company has a history of working with Inman Solar. The two companies have developed projects in Georgia and North Carolina.

“We needed a good builder, and Inman is definitely one of the best that we’ve worked with,” said Nate Greenberg with WGL Energy.

For Inman, the deal is more than just business and marketing accolades. The company is one of several in Georgia pushing to raise the state’s solar profile nationally to the point that large, mature renewable energy companies want to go there to do deals.

Likewise, Inman and other companies have expanded outside of Georgia’s boundaries to put solar arrays in states including Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Landing a major federal government contract like this one raises the profile for all of Georgia’s solar companies, however, said Brion Fitzpatrick with Inman Solar.

“Because of Georgia’s growth and the ‘stop-and-go nature’ here that companies have had to go out and get deals elsewhere,” Fitzpatrick said. “This shows that we’re well equipped and that we’re well prepared to compete nationally.”

Georgia is on track to have roughly 1 gigawatt of solar power on the grid by the end of this year largely because of a popular program with Georgia Power Co., the state’s largest electric company. The state also allows customers to enter into long-term financing arrangements for solar projects, making it easier for residents, local governments and others to afford rooftop solar.