Southern Company “bullish” on solar

Colleen Kiernan, director of the Georgia chapter of the Sierra Club, wrote in the Atlanta Business Chronicle 22 May 2011, Wind energy a viable option for Southern Co.’s portfolio:
Two years ago, Southern Co. claimed “Renewable energy sources like wind and solar are not really an option for us in the Southeast.”

Now the new CEO, Thomas Fanning, says he’s “bullish” on solar. While the new attitude on solar is refreshing,

I’ve seen this before. AustinEnergy went in one year from solar isn’t an option to starting the most agressive rooftop solar deployment program in the country. Why? Simple economics. With Austin growing 10% a year, they needed more power. They could go nuclear (tried that in the ’80s: late, overbudget, and huge political resistance), coal (but Austin prides itself on clean industry), or it turned out that rooftop solar would generate just as much energy for the same investment in the form of installation rebates, would be distributed so it wouldn’t all fail at once, and would produce the most when it was needed the most: on hot summer days. Peak load, ahoy!

Sounds like Southern Company finally ran the numbers.

Colleen Kiernan continued:

I am puzzled by Southern’s attitude about offshore wind, which is continues to be “it won’t work on the Georgia coast.”

The best way for Southern to position itself for the future is to invest in offshore wind. Since South Carolina and North Carolina have very long coasts, and Georgia a short one, with only the Northern part good for wind development, it makes sense to form a consortium to share the costs and risks of off-shore development. (Duke Power and Santee Cooper are rumored to already be considering this strategy — Southern should seriously consider joining in.)

That would be the same Duke Energy that just bombed in biomass. Maybe they decided to try something new.

Meanwhile, Southern Company has been dithering. Maybe they should listen to one of their former executives, Sonny Murphy, now Chairman of Sterling Planet. No, not the silly stubborn part. The part about the community embraced Wiregrass Solar and wants to expand it, plus it’s easy money what with the GEFA investment, ease of permitting, and speed of implementation.

Sterling also already sells wind, as in

Sterling Wind™, nationally sourced 100% wind energy
Sterling could source some wind from Georgia Power if Georgia Power was producing it….


PS: Owed to Ed Griffith.