Georgia Power at Wiregrass Solar groundbreaking, 21 Feb 2011

It was good to see Georgia Power assisting at the groundbreaking of the Wiregrass Solar LLC plant, instead of just studying and demonstrating. The speaker equated solar, biomass, and nuclear. Hm, what’s that over their heads? Why, biomass doesn’t seem to be as popular as solar! I didn’t catch the speaker’s name, but he also recognized Robbie Hastings, detail manager in Valdosta. Here’s the video:

Wiregrass Solar LLC groundbreaking, 21 Feb 2011,
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia.
Video by John S. Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.

Georgia Power had several pages in the business section of the Valdosta Daily Times (VDT) the previous Sunday, written up on Monday as Harnessing the sun’s rays: Georgia Power kicks off 18-month solar power study, by Karah-Leigh Hancock, about what Gapower is doing instead of actually deploying solar:

Georgia Power and Electric Power Research Institute are conducting the 18-month long study to determine how solar photovoltaic systems may affect the utility’s distribution system.

“The whole purpose (of the research project) is to determine the viability of solar power in our area,” said Zach Nelson, a distribution engineer for Georgia Power.

The study is being performed in six cities — Valdosta, Rome, Macon, Augusta, Columbus, Savannah and Conley. Fifty photovoltaic systems have been installed and seven to eight small systems are being installed in one distribution line in each city.

According to Georgia Power, the locations were picked based on a number of environmental parameters.

I wonder if one of the environmental parameters for Valdosta was the Wiregrass Solar plant was making it obvious Georgia Power wasn’t deploying anything? The timing certainly seems related, since Gapower PR about this project elsewhere in the state occured a couple of weeks earlier. Remember what Hannah Solar CEO Pete Marte said about the fox in the henhouse.

More from Georgia Power, which I have illustrated with a map of solar radiation found on their own website:

“One good thing about the data we’ll be able to get, not only will it tell us how effective they are (and) how well they stand up to the weather, we will be able (to offer solar power capabilities) and a lot of our customers are looking into renewable energy in their buildings,” Nelson said. “(After this project), we will have two years of data and we can say, ‘This is how you can expect (the panels) to perform.’ So (the results) will be useful for us and our customers.”
Ah, Georgia Power! Study to death something that’s already been proven and working for years in Austin, Texas, and in Florida, which you can see by that NREL map get the same amount of sunshine as south Georgia. Proven for that matter in Hahira on Georgia Power’s own grid.

As Sonny Murphy, Chairman of Sterling Planet, repeatedly reminded people, he was an executive for a long time at the Southern Company, which is the parent company of Georgia Power. I congratulated him on being 2 years ahead of Georgia Power by actually deploying solar power now in Georgia. Hey, maybe Sterling Planet and Hannah Solar and the local solar companies could do more of that!