Category Archives: Economy

Duke Energy solar: NC, SC, and now Florida

Duke’s new solar farms in Florida echo what Duke was already doing three and a half years ago when an independent study concluded more solar power in North Carolina would save utility ratepayers tens of millions of dollars annually.


Duke solar power farm in Perry, Florida, courtesy Duke Energy

John Downey, Charlotte Business Journal, 23 October 2013, Study: Solar benefits outweigh costs in NC,

It notes the gains from solar projects — such as lower transmission and distribution costs, avoided emissions, lower losses of electricity in transmission. The study calculates that such benefits outweigh the costs by 30 percent to 40 percent.

The utility buying most of that solar power in North Carolina is none other than Duke Energy. Parcel 25-01S-11E-1090700.0000 In Florida, Duke just got approval from the Suwannee Board of County Commissioners to build a 62-acre 8.8 MW solar plant next to its Suwannee Power Plant, while shutting down some old natural gas generating turbines, and keeping some newer ones going.

As we learned only a week before at a meeting about the Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) required by the Florida legislature, nitrogen runoff from fertilizers is a huge problem in the Suwannee River Basin, and needs to be reduced 80-90% from every source. Duke Energy (or even FPL) could buy power from distributed solar farms on 1030 more acres in Suwannee County and produce enough power to shut down the rest of its gas turbines at that Suwannee River facility, while generating enough power for twice the number of households in Suwannee County. That would remove power plant emissions and use of cooling water, while helping solve the BMAP problem.

No, I’m not recommending cutting down trees for solar panels. Rooftop solar power and solar panels on marginal farmland would make far more sense. As even Duke says, solar panels produce “little to no waste”, which means no fertilizer or pesticide runoff from them. Graze cows, sheep, or goats around them, and the farmer has income from both the solar panels and the livestock, while still needing no pesticides to control weeds. That’s what Sandy Hill Solar of Elm City, North Carolina does, and the utility buying their power is Duke Energy.

Duke by February 2015 had expanded its solar buying into South Carolina, and by October 2015 announced a new solar farm near Perry, Florida, Duke’s second such project in Florida, and operational in Perry by September 2016. Funny how solar plants can go online in less than a year, unlike the three-year-plus permitting process of interstate natural gas pipelines.

The Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) lists numerous studies about the cost-effectiveness of solar power, including that North Carolina 2013 report, now with a copy on the LAKE website. SEIA also lists one for Virginia which is on the MDV-SEIA website, and now also has a copy on the LAKE website.

For Georgia SEIA lists the testimony of GSEIA before the Georgia Public Service Commission in 2013. See also other testimony at that same GA-PSC session, which resulted in GA-PSC requiring Georgia Power to buy twice as much solar power as it wanted to. GA-PSC did the same again in 2015, which was also the year Georgia Power finally stopped its dozen-year-long objections to fixing a 1970s law, and actively backed a 2015 version of that solar financing bill, which passed unanimously in the Georgia Senate and was signed by the same Georgia governor who had accepted campaign finance contributions from multiple pipeline company PACs. After the bill became law, Georgia Power started selling solar power.

Georgia Power’s parent company Southern Company is also installing solar power in the Florida panhandle through its subsidiary Gulf Power, including three projects at military bases totalling 120 MW.

All that is without even comparing solar power to natural gas pipelines such as Sabal Trail. I did that comparison, and I’m still watiing for somebody to show me any flaws in my arithmetic, which shows that FPL’s ratepayers, now stuck with a $3.2 billion bill for the Sabal Trail boondoggle, could get five times as much electricity through solar power at that price.

For Florida SEIA lists only a very old (2003) study with a broken link, which can be found as a google book, but now would mostly be worthwhile as a museum piece. Duke’s own actions in Florida in 2016 and 2017 indicate Duke Energy knows the sun is rising even on the Sunshine State.

Sure, Duke is going too slow (although not as slow as FPL). Duke’s “strategic, long-range plan to install 35 megawatts of universal solar by 2018, and up to 500 megawatts in the state by 2024” is pocket change for peanuts. Stanford Professor Mark Z. Jacobson’s research project has spelled out what Florida (and each other U.S. state) needs in solar, wind, and water power to run everything, depicted on thesolutionsproject.org and backed up by a hundred-plus-page report.

The people of Florida are demanding more solar power. Tens of millions of dollars in fossil fuel and utility money didn’t convince the voters of Florida to support a fake solar amendment last November. The sun is rising, even on the Sunshine State. All the dirty dollars and all the bought politicians can’t stop it.

-jsq

Investigative reporting costs money, for open records requests, copying, web hosting, gasoline, and cameras, and with sufficient funds we can pay students to do further research. You can donate to LAKE today!

Videos: T-SPLOST report, delinguent subdivision, Juvenile Justice Incentive, GDOT Exits & Mowing @ LCC 2017-04-10

They vote 5:30 PM Tuesday about what they discussed this morning. The longest item at five minutes was 6a. FY2018 Juvenile Justice Incentive Grant Program REquest. Third longest was a subvision asking to be forgiven paving money the county gave it that never was used. And second longest, although not on the agenda, was a T-SPLOST report by the County Manager.

Below are Continue reading

No T-SPLOST, Juvenile Youth Action and Justice Incentive, GDOT Exits & Mowing, late subdivision @ LCC 2017-04-10

No T-SPLOST on the agenda for Monday morning, despite tabling it two weeks ago until their next meeting. That may be because while Lowndes County dithered, ten other of the 18 counties in the region agreed to put it on the ballot, so now it doesn’t matter what the Lowndes County Commission decides about that. Remember, even with it on the ballot, it can still be voted down, like in 2012. Meanwhile, according to the VDT,

In the coming weeks, a regional roundtable of government representatives will determine when the public vote will take place, the projected revenue from the tax and what projects the tax would fund if passed.

You, the taxpayers, are not invited to those roundtables, which will be held on unknown dates at unknown locations.

On the agenda for Monday morning and Tuesday evening is the ironic justaxposition of Special Proclamation Presentation to the Teen Explosion Youth Action Group and FY2018 Juvenile Justice Incentive Grant Program Request for Proposals (RFP). There are two GDOT items and a late payment by a subdivision, with its name spelled wrong by the county, or by Trulia, or somebody.

LOWNDES COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
PROPOSED AGENDA
WORK SESSION, MONDAY, APRIL 10, 2017, 8:30 a.m.
REGULAR SESSION, TUESDAY, APRIL 11, 2017, 5:30 p.m.
327 N. Ashley Street – 2nd Floor

Continue reading

Videos: regional T-SPLOST tabled, Trash disposal renewals, another lift station pump, Dasher Streets @ LCC 2017-03-28

They tabled T-SPLOST until their next meeting because they got a complaint from the Chamber about process, and also from others. Remember, even if it gets on the ballot, it can still be voted down again, like in 2012.

Meanwhile, John Stephen, VDT, 7 April 2017, T-SPLOST headed for referendum,

Even though the Lowndes County Commission delayed a vote on the regional T-SPLOST at its last meeting due to local confusion on the one-penny sales tax, enough counties in the area now support the tax (10 out of 18 were needed) to move it forward to a public vote even without the commission’s approval.

In the coming weeks, a regional roundtable of government representatives will determine Continue reading

Videos: Sheriff still wants warrants, elections, judges, EMS coroner, Budget Requests (2 of 3 days) @ LCC 2017-03-28

Sheriff Ashley Paulk still wants a warrant before he turns anybody over to ICE. I agree with him that there’s no point in arresting people who are busy working in the fields. Georgia already tried that a few years ago, and crops rotted.

These are the LAKE videos from day 2 of 3. They’re back at it this morning, and Gretchen is there with the LAKE video camera.

The Board of Elections got the second-longest discussion at 44 minutes, partly because the Elections Supervisor kept using jargon it’s not clear the Commissioners understood. Longest discussion was with newly-elected Coroner Austin Fiveash, whose office has been kicked out of Remerton, which used to heavily subsidize it, and he apparently didn’t know the Coroner doesn’t get a car supplied, nor any office help. When asked why he picked an assistant coroner who already had a half-time job, he said nobody wanted this job. Well, apparently he did: he ran for it.

And still no agenda on the county’s website. Why doesn’t the county want the tax-paying public to know what they’re doing? Continue reading

Videos: Budget Requests (1 of 3 days) @ LCC 2017-03-27

Still no agenda on the county’s website, and it wasn’t posted on the front of the building, either, but a county employee (not the Clerk) did finally get Gretchen a copy, which you can see here, for the first of three county budget meetings. The Tax Assessors and Behavioral Health didn’t show up. All the Superior Court judges did show up, so if you want to see them and many other public officials and their budget requests, you can in these LAKE videos. Very few if any citizens other than Gretchen showed up to watch in person. They’re back at it today, so you can go see for yourself whoever they have asking for money today.

Agenda

That was the third public meeting yesterday morning, 10:30 AM to 4:50 PM, Monday, March 27, 2017, after the Work Session and the Goals meeting. After lunch, County Manager Joe Pritchard supplied a chair for Gretchen to sit in.

We can guess this is a followup to the Continue reading

Videos: Lowndes County Commission Goals @ LCC 2017-03-27

The Chairman confirmed that yesterday’s “Lowndes County Commission Goals” was a continuation of the rather testy goals discussion at their February planning session, in which they disagreed on things such as whether to hold Work Sessions at times when working people could attend. And ten days later held a three-minute Work Session. There’s still no agenda for that 9:30AM to 10:30AM Goals meeting on the county’s website, even though it appears they had one.

They declared Solid Waste Management accomplished, yet they spent even more time discussing Litter Control and Beautification and kept that on their short-term goals. Later they seemed to decide to make a special class of ongoing issues, including litter and Moody AFB.

The elephant in the room is that tax revenue is down and inconsistent.

Below are links to each LAKE video of that Goals meeting, with a few notes, followed by a video playlist. Continue reading

Videos: Trash disposal renewals, regional T-SPLOST, another lift station pump, Dasher Streets @ LCC 2017-03-27

More than four minutes yesterday morning on Residential Solid Waste Franchise Renewal: maybe it’s still contentious because they still don’t have a good model. Maybe not everybody wants to have their trash picked up at the end of their driveway like they lived in town. They vote tonight at 5:30 PM, and they agreed add an agenda item amending the ordinance to change insurance requirement from $5 million to $1 million. As of this writing at 8AM, they have not yet changed their online agenda. We’ll see how it eventually changes from the agenda already blogged.

They spent more than three minutes on Regional T-SPLOST; follow the link for details. Another Lift Station Pump lift station pump needs replacing And Dasher wants the county to maintain a couple of dirt streets.

Below are links to each LAKE video, with a few notes, followed by a video playlist. See also the agenda. Continue reading

First of three budget meetings @ LCC 2017-03-27

In the third public meeting this morning, after the Work Session and the Goals meeting, the Lowndes County Commission is holding the first of three daily budget meetings. This one is 10:30 AM to 4:50 PM, Monday, March 27, 2017. There’s no agenda, just this calendar notice.

We can guess this is a followup to the audit report and finance discussions from their February planning session.

Why they didn’t post an agenda is mysterious. They didn’t post one for the Goals meeting, either.

Investigative reporting costs money, for open records requests, copying, web hosting, gasoline, and cameras, and with sufficient funds we can pay students to do further research. You can donate to LAKE today!

-jsq

Lowndes County Commission Goals @ LCC 2017-03-27

No agenda, but on their calendar for this morning 9:30-10:30 AM Monday March 27, 2017: “Lowndes County Commission Goals”.

We can guess this is a continuation of the rather testy goals discussion at their February planning session, in which they disagreed on things such as whether to hold Work Sessions at times when working people could attend. And ten days later held a three-minute Work Session.

-jsq

Investigative reporting costs money, for open records requests, copying, web hosting, gasoline, and cameras, and with sufficient funds we can pay students to do further research. You can donate to LAKE today!