The same Masayoshi Son who shook up Japan’s Internet market and is about to do the same in the U.S. is moving to modify Japan’s power market from nuclear to solar. Watch out, Georgia Power and Southern Company! If you don’t get a move on, Son-san will eat your lunch, too.
Mariko Yasu wrote for Bloomberg Businessweek 23 June 2011, Softbank’s CEO Wants a Solar-Powered Japan,
Billionaire Masayoshi Son made a fortune taking on Japan’s phone monopoly. Now he aims to shake up its power utilities after the worst nuclear crisis in 25 years. The 53-year-old chief executive officer of Softbank says he will build solar farms to generate electricity, with support from at least 33 of Japan’s 47 prefectures. He’s asking for access to transmission networks owned by the 10 regional utilities and an agreement that they buy his electricity. No other company has secured unlimited access to the those transmission networks. The utilities would not comment. Japan’s main business organization, the Keidanren, called for “careful analysis” before any drastic change in the power system took place.
If Japan ever felt ready to back Son’s ambitious plan, this is the moment. Radiation has spread across at least 600 square kilometers (230 square miles) in the northeast since the Mar. 11 earthquake and tsunami led to meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant. Outgoing Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in May he will rethink a plan to increase atomic power to 50 percent of the nation’s energy output from 30 percent. Renewable energy already accounts for 10 percent, according to Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy. Son wants to see that tripled by 2020. “The question is how this nation is going to survive after cutting nuclear power,” he said at a government panel meeting on June 12.
Complacent Georgia Power and SO, you maybe don’t think he can do it? NTT probably thought that, too:
When Son introduced Softbank’s broadband service in 2001, he offered rates that undercut NTT’s by as much as half.
And if not Son, somebody else will outcompete SO’s subsidized three-legged nuclear regulatory-caputure stool.
Besides, it will be easier in Georgia than in Japan or tiny Denmark:
For Son to succeed, regulators have to agree to make 540,000 hectares (1.3 million acres) of unused farmland available for solar-power stations. If Son can devote 20 percent of the unused farmland to solar plants, he says, he can generate the same amount of electricity as Tokyo Electric Power, the giant utility that accounts for a third of Japan’s electricity sales.
In Georgia, there’s plenty of land available, such as next to Plant Branch, on rooftops, in parking lots such as at VSU, next to the existing solar array at the Mud Creek wastewater plant in Valdosta, at the airport, etc.
The article sums it up:
The bottom line: Masayoshi Son wants to ramp up solar energy capacity in Japan and take on the established utilities at the same time.
Hm, who does that remind me of? Maybe Georgia Solar Utilities (GaSU), which wants to build an 80 MW solar plant on land next to Georgia Power’s coal Plant Branch and become a GA PSC-certified electric utility.
And remember, this game is not just for billionaires. In Savannah, Dr. Sidney Smith heads Lower Rates for Customers LLC that’s installing solar panels in parking lots and selling power to businesses, daring Georgia Power to sue him for violating the 1973 Territorial Electric Service Act. That’s the act that prevents you from selling power from solar panels on your roof on an open market, and makes it hard for you to get financing to put up those panels in the first place. That Act, propped up by Georgia Power, is what’s dragging Georgia behind New Jersey and Denmark and Germany. And Japan.
If you want to get on with solar and stop wasting resources on that nuclear boondoggle on the Savannah River, right now you can vote for Georgia Public Service Commissioners and legislators who will represent you, instead of kow-towing to the utilities.
In addition to voting for people who will represent you, if you’re a Georgia Power customer, you can pay your nuke-boondoggle CWIP payment in a separate check, with a comment saying you’d rather have renewable energy. Even if you’re not, you can write to Georgia Power, or Southern Company, or the GA PSC. Here are some contacts.