Biomass down for now: next?

Congratulations to all who worked against the biomass plant: today was the deadline on its most recent extension, so it’s gone for now. Congratulations to WACE and SAVE and NAACP and New Life Ministries and everyone else who was involved, especially Natasha Fast, Seth Gunning, and Brad Bergstrom, who were working against it before almost anyone else.

Congratulations to those who were instrumental even though they were not exactly or originally biomass opponents, especially Ashley Paulk, who came out and said what needed to be said, and George Bennett, who was willing to admit in public that he was one of the earliest proponents of the biomass plant but new knowledge caused him to think differently.

A big shoutout to the VSU Faculty Senate, the only traditional non-activist body that went on record as opposing the biomass plant with an actual vote before the extension deadline. The VSU Faculty Senate did what the Valdosta City Council, the Lowndes County Commission and the Industrial Authority Board would not. Go Blazers!

A special strategic mention to Kay Harris and David Rodock of the Valdosta Daily Times, who came to realize they were not being told the whole truth by the Industrial Authority. The VDT even gave a civics lesson on how to stop the biomass plant.

And a very special mention to the people who did the most to make the name of biomass mud in the public’s eye: Brad Lofton, Col. Ricketts, and the VLCIA board. Without their indoctrination sessions and paid “forum” and stonewalling, people wouldn’t have been turned against that thing nearly as fast!

Yet it ain’t over until it’s over.

According to David Rodock in the VDT today:

“I don’t think they even have a ground disturbance permit yet,” said Jennett. “Their development agreement ends June 1. That’s the end of the development agreement, that’s it. They have not asked us for a project extension and I’m pretty sure if they did ask for one, they’d get a no vote.”
Jerry Jennett is the chairman of the Industrial Authority that had every opportunity to schedule such a vote any time in the last year or two and did not. So how do we know how such a vote would go?

Congratulations again for all who worked against the biomass plant.

But remember, incinerators gone today can come back tomorrow, as happened in Harrisburg, PA. Vigilance.

What if rates for other types of electricity increase, or somebody invents a more efficient biomass incinerator? Then what actually killed this plant may not apply any more: its power was too costly so nobody would buy it. What if biomass power cost less at the same time other power cost more? Then you can bet somebody would propose another biomass plant and lots of people would say “it’s clean green power.”

The only way to make sure it doesn’t come back is to make clear that something else is far more profitable. As far as energy, we know what that is: solar energy for south Georgia.

Chairman Sonny Murphy of Sterling Planet, while being stubborn about the biomass plant, also offered a next solar step: increasing the Wiregrass Solar plant by another megaWatt. Alden Hathaway of Sterling Planet knows how to do that, and Pete Marte and Hannah Solar stand ready to do it.

It’s time to remind Valdosta Mayor Fretti and County Commissioner Crawford Powell of their promise:

And, truthfully, I think Crawford and I have talked, if somebody makes a larger array, we hope to come back and expand on this one, because we’re a little competitive and we like to be the largest in Valdosta.
Good as the Wiregrass Solar array is, there was a bigger one already in Dalton, Georgia before Wiregrass Solar was even built, and there’s a much bigger one since April in Blairsville, GA.

So it’s time to get cracking on expanding the Wiregrass Solar array!

And let’s not forget that solar power is the people’s power: we don’t need to wait for Sterling Planet or anybody else to build out a big plant. We can put solar on our own house and business roofs and parking lots.

Go solar!

Once again I applaud the spirit of activism, the spirit of participation, and the spirit of community.

There are plenty of things to work for, such as solar power, local agriculture, education, and a sustainable economy.

And there are plenty of things to work against. Georgia has continued to increase its prison population even while other states realize they can’t afford to lock up so many people. The very same Industrial Authority that wanted to build a biomass plant also wants to build a private prison right here in Lowndes County, privatizing justice for the profit of a few prison company executives on the excuse that incarceration is “cheaper” when privatized. Some of you are already working against private prisons. Others of you may want something to do: here’s a cause.


3 thoughts on “Biomass down for now: next?

  1. Seth Gunning

    I appreciate the acknowledgement John, but you missed the biggest players of all. The community leaders who have bore most all the weight of the fight to protect Valdosta/Lowdnes County air, forest, and community. WACE, you all deserve much gratitude and praise for your time, energy, insight, and willingness to stick your necks out to take a stand for the community you live and believe in. Thank you Michael and Karen Noll, Leigh Touchton, Jane Osborn, Bobbi Hancock, Matthew Richards, Susan Wheling, Matt Flumerfelt, Ben Veith, Erin Hurley, Lauren Linahan, Mario B. and so many more. Thank you, and thank you to your families. Congratulations! When is the PARTY???????

  2. Seth Gunning

    I missed a few People too.
    John and Gretchen Quarterman, without you all, your dedication to transparency in governance, and government responsiveness to the citizenry- the issue might have slipped through the cracks all together. Thank you!

  3. Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange

    Seth: look at the very first organization I congratulated, or at the dozens of posts in this blog on that subject. And the second was SAVE whom you may recall organized the meeting at VSU with Dr. Sammons. And NAACP which was willing to take legal action if necessary. And New Life Ministries, which hosted a Town Hall on biomass before WACE existed. And the rest whom I named, and others whom I no doubt neglected, such as Rev. Floyd Rose, who was willing to get arrested (again) in a Valdosta City Council session in an attempt to get Council members on record. Community involves many people and organizations.
    Regarding LAKE, once again I’d like to point out that LAKE is more than one or two people. LAKE never would have existed without Carolyn Selby, and it wouldn’t be nearly as effective without the many people who feed us stories and who file open records requests. -jsq

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