The power of going solar —John S. Quarterman

Solar panels on farm workshop --John S. Quarterman My op-ed in the VDT today. Remember to vote today or Tuesday. -jsq

This spring, the University at Buffalo turned on 750 kilowatts of solar electricity. Rutgers U., in New Jersey, installed 1.4 megawatts in 2009 and started on 8 MW this summer. Down here with a lot more sun, how about solar panels on VSU parking lots?

There’s plenty of private solar financing available. Also in New Jersey, a company installed 6 MW of solar on high school land and leased the power to the school supplying most of its needs win-win. You can go see a solar farm already working fine here, 200 kilowatts at Mud Creek Wastewater Plant. Why not do the same

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at Lowndes High School, where all the world on I-75 could see, attracting business to our community?

Why not?

Because the 1973 Territorial Electric Act makes that illegal in Georgia. Same reason you can’t get financing to install solar panels on your roof and sell your excess power on an open market: you can only sell to a single electric utility pre-determined for you by that Act, at a rate set by that utility.

A February attempt to change that failed in the legislature after utility lobbying. The same utilities that are building two new nuclear reactors on the Savannah River, financed by charging Georgia Power customers for construction (the legislature approved that stealth tax in 2009 [voting for: Sen. Tim Golden (Turncoat-8), Rep. Ellis Black (Turncoat-174), Rep. Amy Carter (Turncoat-175), Rep. Jay Shaw (D-176)]), plus cost overruns (already almost a billion dollars) passed through to customers (approved by the Public Service Commission in 2011), and an $8.3 billion federal loan guarantee.

People tell me of $200 and $300 a month power bills for single homes around here. My biggest power bill this year was $44.49, because of 15 kilowatts of solar panels on my farm workshop roof, even though my utility only pays me less than half as much for my power as I pay them for theirs.

Imagine if we spent all that nuclear boondoogle money on retrofitting homes and deploying solar power instead! Imagine if we simply got that 1973 Act out of the way so private financing could put panels on people’s roofs. You could get a lot more for your solar power from buyers in Atlanta or points north, and your utility could take a percentage for carriage: win-win-win.

You can vote for new Georgia Public Service Commissioners and legislators who can imagine solar power here in the south Georgia sun.

John S. Quarterman grows pine trees and vegetables in Lowndes County

My title was “Time for solar in south Georgia”. Other than that and a different picture, the VDT printed it as I sent it. Here I’ve illustrated it, added links to sources, and spelled out [some names], plus a video version, and here’s a list of who’s running who might imagine solar power in the south Georgia sun.

For GA PSC, both David Staples and Steve Oppenheimer have spoken here in Lowndes County.

  • Steve Oppenheimer addressed the Hahira City Council and discussed streetlights afterwards, including a solar option. Oppenheimer wrote:

    The PSC must set a precedent of fighting for the average Georgian NOT for the utilities—we as ratepayers should expect high quality and timely construction in ALL construction proposals that involve expense to the ratepayer….

    When the Solar Bill was in play during the last General Assembly, the silence from the PSC was deafening. The PSC should convene public hearings on this topic: “Why does 3rd Party financing working in 45 other states and not Georgia?”

  • David Staples said at Rainwater Convention Center in Valdosta that he is for solar instead of nuclear. Staples wrote:

    From what I’ve read, it appears to me that most of the money collected as CWIP isnt necessarily going towards prepaying the financing costs, but instead is going to Georgia Power as extra profit. As I stated earlier, I don’t approve of guaranteed profits for any business….

    The drought issue is actually one of the greatest benefits of solar to Georgia I believe. It is those hot summer days where the temperature reaches past the 100 degree mark where air conditioners all over the state are kicked into high gear that solar is readily available to meet that need.

Local challengers running for the statehouse who did not vote for that stealth tax hike on Georgia Power customer bills are: