Category Archives: Cobb EMC

Dominion buying up solar projects

A Virginia electric utility bought a solar project near Georgia Power’s nuclear plant Vogtle, and has been busily buying up four more, in Indiana and Connecticut. The Georgia electric customer is recent coal-to-solar convert Cobb EMC, not Georgia Power. This is the same Dominion Power that got Virginia to legalize its “standby charge” of a monthly fee for individuals to connect solar to its grid. Is Dominion trying to beat Edison Electric’s warning of the disruptive challenge of rooftop solar by building large solar plants? If so, it’s a start, with quite a few construction jobs. And all of this new solar power is expected to be online this year, a lot faster than nuclear….

Dominion says of its Azalea Solar Power Facility:

Location of Azalea Solar Power Facility Dominion announced on March 1, 2013, that it has acquired a solar energy development project in Georgia from Smart Energy Capital and Jacoby Development. The expected start of commercial operations is Dec. 1, 2013. (> View our news release for complete details.)

Dominion’s Azalea Solar Power Facility is planned to produce approximately 7.7 megawatts (AC) using photovoltaic technology. Dominion will select a contractor and oversee the construction of the project. The 40-acre project is located on Continue reading

Cobb coal exec prosecution can proceed –Georgia Court of Appeals

Cobb EMC’s former CEO, who pushed coal plants and is charged with a variety of crimes, still can be prosecuted.

Andria Simmons wrote for the AJC Friday, Ruling lets case against ex-Cobb EMC chief proceed,

The Georgia Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld the indictment of the former CEO of Cobb EMC, clearing the way for his prosecution to proceed.

In 2011, former Cobb EMC CEO Dwight Brown was indicted for allegedly operating the utility as for-profit company that benefited its leaders. He was charged with 31 counts including theft, false swearing, conspiracy to defraud the state and racketeering.

So former Gov. Roy Barnes may have briefly gotten Dwight Brown off on a technicality, but that show’s back on the road, two and a half years after it began.

Meanwhile, insurgents won a majority on Cobb EMC’s board and Cobb EMC is Continue reading

Renewables are Winning, Nukes are Dead, and Coal is Crashing

Somebody is willing to read the sunshine writing: Renewables are Winning, Nukes are Dead and Coal is Crashing, as Kathleen Rogers and Danny Kennedy wrote for EcoWatch 14 Dec 2012.

As I wrote back in April when formerly coal-plotting Cobb EMC went solar:

Coal is dead. Nuclear is going down. Solar will eat the lunch of utilities that don’t start generating it.

Can Georgia Power and Southern Company (SO) read that handwriting on the wall? They can’t fight Moore’s Law, which has steadily brought the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy down for thirty years now, and shows no signs of stopping. This is the same Moore’s Law that has put a computer in your pocket more powerful than a computer that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in 1982 and was used by an entire company. Solar PV costs dropped 50% last year. Already all the new U.S. electric capacity installed this September was solar and wind. As this trend continues, solar will become so much more cost-effective than any fossil or nuclear fuel power that nobody will be able to ignore it.

Rogers and Kennedy explained this phenomenon:

The seismic shift in how we all use cell phones and mobile technology to access the internet almost snuck up on the incumbent technologies and the monopolies that made money selling us landline telephones and a crappy service. Now, we’re all using apps on smartphones all of the time. So too, the shift to a scaled, solar-powered future built around the modular technology at the heart of solar power—the photovoltaic solar cell—will come as a surprise to many. We call it the solar ascent, and it is happening every day in a million ways.

Will SO and Georgia Power continue to prop up that 1973 legal wall that inhibits solar financing in Georgia? Companies and even economic development authorities are starting to find ways around it, and of course there’s Georgia Solar Utilities (GaSU) trying to wedge into the law as a utility. After Hurricane Sandy, rooftop solar for grid outage independence has suddenly hit the big time (Austin Energy caught onto that back in 2003). The U.S. military got solar and renewable energy back in Afghanistan and are now doing it bigtime everywhere.

SO and Georgia Power can try to ignore Continue reading

“Great, big” SO is 1/10 Australia for solar farm deployment in Georgia

Solar Megawatts 2012-10-11 So if Southern Company is a “great, big company” similar to Australia, why did Australia just deploy a solar farm ten times the size of the biggest one SO has in Georgia?

Back in May, Southern Company (SO) CEO Thomas A. Fanning said:

From an energy standpoint, Southern Company is a little bit smaller, but similar to, the energy production profile of the nation of Australia. We are a great, big company from an energy production standpoint.

Meanwhile in Australia, Giles Parkinson wrote for Clean Technica 10 October 2012, Australia’s 1st Utility-Scale Solar Farm Now On!

At about 11am local time near the Western Australian town of Geraldton this morning, Australia’s first-utility scale solar farm was officially switched on.

It was a suitably sunny day (blighted by three million flies) and although just 10MW in size, and built courtesy of funding from the local government, a state-owned utility and by one of the wealthiest companies on the planet, it may presage a dramatic change in the way this country produces energy.

So what’s SO or Georgia Power’s biggest solar plant in Georgia? You remember, 1 MW in Upson.

OK, to be fair, that’s just Georgia Power. SO does have larger solar farms elsewhere, including

Now I know Georgia Power’s party line is that solar is only good in the U.S. southwest. But I don’t know how that explains Continue reading

What Georgia Power is afraid of: GaSU and Dr. Smith; and you

So what is Georgia Power afraid of that made their CEO Paul Bowers double down on old-style baseload? Competition, that’s what! What could be more scary in the power-monopoly state of the 1973 Territorial Electric Service Act?

GaSU sun On one side, Georgia Power faces GaSU and its 80 or 90 MW solar plant proposal. Walter C. Jones wrote for OnlineAthens 24 September 2012, Proposed solar company could stir up Georgia’s utility structure,

A proposal from a start-up business promises to lower electricity rates by rebating profits to customers if given a chance to compete as Georgia Power Co.’s “mirror image.”

GaSU fb profile image To proceed with its long-range plan of developing 2 gigawatts of solar power, the start-up, Georgia Solar Utilities Inc., wants to start by building an 80-megawatt “solar farm” near Milledgeville as soon as it gets a green light from the Georgia Public Service Commission. GaSU filed its request last week, and as of Monday, it’s still too fresh for public evaluation.

So radical is the proposal that spokespersons for Georgia Power and the Georgia Solar Energy Association said they still were evaluating it and could not comment.

Groups that normally advocate for customers also are staying quiet.

GaSU executives recognize such a big change won’t come easily.

Continue reading

Georgia Power’s Bowers pushes solar misinformation out the next fifty years

Paul Bowers, CEO of Georgia Power, doubled down on baseload nuclear, coal, and natural gas for the next fifty years. What’s he scared of?

Nick Coltrain wrote for OnlineAthens yesterday, Renewable push not in the cards for Ga. Power,

Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers in Georgia Trend, November 2011 “Renewable (energy sources are) going to have a sliver,” Bowers said of fuels to create electricity. “Is it going to be 2 or 4 percent? That’s yet to be determined. Economics will drive that. But you always remember (that renewable energy is) an intermittent resource. It’s not one you can depend on 100 percent of the time.”

One time you can depend on it is hot summer days when everybody is air conditioning, which is why Roger Duncan of Austin Energy in 2003 Austin Energy flipped in one year from spouting such nonsense to deploying the most aggressive solar rooftop rebate program in the country. Austin Energy did the math and found those rebates would cost about the same as a coal plant and would generate as much energy. And when it is needed most, unlike the fossilized baseload grid, which left millions without power in the U.S. in June and hundreds of millions without power in India in July.

Bowers knows better than the nonsense he just spouted; as recently as November 2011 he told Georgia Trend,

Continue reading

Southern Company’s three-legged nuclear regulatory-capture stool

The failed EDF nuke project at Calvert Cliffs in Maryland makes it clearer why Southern Company (SO) was the first company to get a nuclear permit in 30 years: it was the only one big enough and monopolistic enough to pull it off. Even then it’s such a bet-the-farm risk that even “great, big company” SO only dared to deploy its great big huge scale equipment with the regulatory capture triple-whammy of a stealth tax on Georgia Power bills, PSC approval of cost overruns, and an $8.33 billion federal loan guarantee:

  1. a legislated stealth tax in the form of a rate hike on Georgia Power customers for power they won’t get for years if ever. If you’re a Georgia Power customer, look on your bill for Nuclear Construct Cost Recovery Rider. You’ll find it adds about 5% on top of your Current Service Subtotal. Georgia is one of only a handful of states where such a Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) charge is legal thanks to our regulatory-captured legislature. Doubling down on bad energy bets, Southern Company is also trying to use CWIP to build a coal plant in Mississippi.
  2. A captive Public Service Commission that rubber-stamps costs for Plant Vogtle. In case there was any doubt as to the PSC’s role in legitimizing those new nukes, the very next day Fitch reaffirmed Southern Company’s bond ratings.

    Southern Company’s regulated utility subsidiaries derive predictable cash flows from low-risk utility businesses, enjoy relatively favorable regulatory framework in their service territories, and exhibit limited commodity price risks due to the ability to recover fuel and purchased power through separate cost trackers.

    Translation: Georgia Power customers subsidize SO’s bonds and SO shareholders’ stock dividends. The PSC also approved cost overruns being passed on to Georgia Power customers, and those nukes are already over $400 or $900 million, depending on who you ask. What do you expect when 4 out of 5 Public Service Commissioners apparently took 70% of their campaign contributions from utilities they regulate or their employees or their law firms, and the fifth commissioner took about 20% from such sources? Hm, there’s an election going on right now!
  3. An $8.33 billion federal loan guarantee. Even that’s not good enough for SO and Georgia Power: SO is asking for less down payment.

And what if even one of that three-legged regulatory capture stool’s legs went away? Continue reading

Incumbents won Snapping Shoals EMC board election

Insurgents lost an EMC board election, but made their point anyway. Following up on the three locals running for the board of Snapping Shoals EMC, they lost, but remember Snapping Shoals EMC quit coal-pushing Power4Georgians when they announced they were running.

Crystal Tatum wrote for the Henry Daily Herald 26 July 2012, Morris, Snapping Shoals EMC incumbents win by landslide,

CONYERS — Members of the Snapping Shoals Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) have returned to office three incumbents in a rare contested election to the agency’s 11-member board of directors.

EMC board members set policies and oversee the finances and administration of Snapping Shoals. They serve staggered, three-year terms. The non-profit EMC is a consumer-owned cooperative in Covington, providing service to about 95,000 consumers in an eight-county area, including Henry County.

Gene Morris of Henry County, Walter Johnson of DeKalb County, and Anthony Norton of Rockdale, were being challenged because of their support to build the coal-fire power Plant Washington. Kaye Shipley, also of Henry County, Albert Roesel of Newton County, and Cheryl Mathis of DeKalb County form the group challenging the three. Voting took place at the cooperative’s annual meeting Thursday in Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers.

In the District 2 Rockdale post, 2,400 ballots were cast, with Norton beating Roesel 2,157 to 224. Nineteen ballots were voided. In the District 3 DeKalb County Post, Johnson garnered 2,099 votes to Cheryl Moore-Mathis’ 280. Twenty-one votes were voided. In the District 4 Henry County race, 2,392 ballots were cast, with Morris getting 2,082 votes to Shipley’s 300. Ten were voided. Newton County District 1 representative Pete Knox ran unopposed.

Amusingly, incumbent Gene Morris termed it a David and Goliath struggle with the incumbents as David. I’m not sure most people think of the power company as the little guy….

The story mentioned a post-election press release by the challengers, but didn’t link to it. No problem; Continue reading

Pam Davidson is running for Georgia Public Service Commission

Pam Davidson is running for GA PSC District 5, challenging incumbent Stan Wise in the Republican Primary. In this video she spoke to the Cobb County Republican Party, first emphasizing that she wouldn’t take money from regulated companies, and then she spoke about those new Southern Company nukes:

The largest economic development project in the southeast is the two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle. Now you may say, “I’m a Cobb EMC customer.” Well, when Georgia Power, as the largest regulated utility in the state builds a new facility, often that serves as a merchant facility, or Georgia Power will sell it to the EMCs. So indirectly the Commission votes on EMC issues.

According to Oglethorpe Power the statewide consortium of EMCs of which Cobb EMC is the largest,

Oglethorpe Power is a 30 percent owner of Plant Vogtle’s existing Units 1 and 2 and will own 30 percent of the two new units as well.

Back to Pam Davidson:

But you want to be very very careful about those nuclear plants. And we have problems, ladies and gentlemen. We have problems with nuclear reactors 1 and 2. And all those problems are really cost problems. I am in favor of nuclear energy. I think it’s a great source of energy. However, nuclear energy cannot survive a rennaissance if it’s so expensive.

Here’s the video:

When I spoke to her recently, Pam Davidson said:

Continue reading

Sidewalk snaps up behind coal in Georgia: Snapping Shoals EMC drops Power4Georgians

Only a few months ago, Cobb EMC pulled out of Power4Georgians and their coal plant plans; now Snapping Shoals EMC does the same. The sidewalk is indeed snapping up behind coal in Georgia. As once again customers of an EMC decide to run for its board. Southern Company and Georgia Power, are you listening? Not just about coal; also about those new nukes.

The insurgent candidates have a facebook page, Smart Energy for Snapping Shoals.

PR yesterday from Georgians for Smart Energy, Snapping Shoals EMC Backs Away From Risky Coal Plant Venture

Continue reading