Birmingham U.K. municipal solar didn’t wait for larger governments

Banks and power companies can fund municipal solar projects; cities and counties don’t have to wait for state or federal governments to provide them grants. Or at least Birmingham, U.K. has done it for public housing. And Quitman, Georgia did it last year, too.

According to Larry Elliott in the Guardian, 3 October 2010, 10,000 Birmingham council homes to get solar panels: City agrees £100m scheme, partly funded by banks and energy suppliers, to meet target for cutting carbon emissions

Plans to fit power generating solar panels to council-owned properties in Birmingham will be pushed forward this week after the council agreed a “green new deal” scheme covering 10,000 homes.

In the biggest proposal for retrofitting houses through an energy efficiency upgrade yet seen in the UK, the council agreed a £100m proposal last week designed to create jobs and meet the city’s ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions.

The plan – Birmingham Energy Savers – will be jointly funded by Birmingham council and investment from energy suppliers and commercial banks, and follows two successful pilot schemes conducted in Europe’s biggest local authority.

Energy efficiency and solar power to create jobs!

We have local proof of concept right next door in Brooks County, where Kevin Skeath installed solar PV panels and solar hot water panels on a housing project built by a Lowndes County developer.

The chairman of the Georgia PSC, Lauren McDonald,

“wants Georgia Power to come up with options in the next 30 days for expanding the tiny amount of electricity generated from solar power.”
OK, here’s something Georgia Power could do that has been tested on a large scale in Birmingham, U.K., and on a small scale right next door in Quitman, Georgia.

The new CEO of Georgia Power’s parent company, the Southern Company, says he’s “bullish” on solar. Georgia Power just connected a 300 kiloWatt solar plant in Valdosta. Why not leverage that success to turn Valdosta and Lowndes County into a showplace for solar power in south Georgia, generating jobs and energy in the process?

The Chamber of Commerce wants knowledge-based jobs and renewable and sustainable energy. They have banks as members and banks on their board. Maybe they could help organize a plan like Birmingham’s.

There is a time for cautious gradual investigation over years. And there is a time for striking while the iron is hot. Right now for the fastest growing industry in the world, solar power, could be the latter here in the hot south Georgia sun.