Bruce Douglas, formerly general counsel and corporate secretary at Enfinity America Corp., a solar energy development and financing firm, has joined the Atlanta office of the law firm Barnes & Thornburg LLP.

Mr. Douglas is a member the Georgia Solar Energy Association (GSEA) and intends to continue doing legal work related to renewable energy and the environment as well as finance and real estate.

He told GlobalAtlanta that as general counsel at Enfinity America, which is owned by the Belgian company Enfinity NV, he has been exposed to the development of solar energy initiatives both domestically and internationally.

A proponent of solar energy as an “inexhaustible source of energy,” he said that Georgia is noticeably lagging behind other U.S. states, in part due to the ongoing debates between solar advocates and Georgia Power over the development, interconnection and financing of solar projets. Georgia Power serves customers in 155 of the state’s 159 counties.

As a point of controversy, he cited Georgia Power’s interpretation of the state’s Territorial Act, which, he said, claims that only utility companies have the ability to sell electricity in the public market, thereby hindering the development of the private solar industry here.

According to Mr. Douglas, Georgia Power’s interpretation is being challenged by a number of solar groups, including the GSEA.

By clarifying the specifics and scope of the Territorial Act, third party financing, similar to a lease, would enable a homeowner or business to finance a solar installation without going through Georgia Power. Georgia Power officials, however, have argued that amending the act would result in higher costs for its customers.

If Georgia established a Renewable Portfolio Standard, which approximately 30 states have implemented, Georgia Power would be required to produce a specified percentage of their energy output from a renewable energy source, such as solar or wind.

Mr. Douglas also pointed to the use of renewable energy certificates in New Jersey as encouraging the development of solar power generation. The certificates track how power is generated and can be bought and sold among multiple parties.

He is a member of the American Bar Association’s Real Property Probate and Trust section and the Environmental Law and Energy section.

Barnes & Thornburg has 550 legal professionals in 12 offices throughout the country with the largest office in Indianapolis.