Category Archives: Suniva

SO’s plan to make the Southeast a net exporter of the energy from solar and wind? –John S. Quarterman @ SO 2013-05-22

SO CEO Tom Fanning didn’t budge from nuclear and coal, but he did announce a tiger team to get on top of distributed solar and wind through a smart grid, headed by SO’s COO, at the 22 May 2013 Southern Company Stockholder Meeting.

Next question --Tom Fanning Mr. John S. Quarterman from Lowndes County, Georgia, and he holds 220 shares of Southern Company.

TF: Hello, John. Good to see you again this year.

jsq with SO fade jsq: Hi. I’ve come to compliment Tom Fanning and Paul Bowers. Last year, Tom Fanning was so persuasive I ran out and bought $10,000 worth of stock.

TF: Bless you. [Applause]

However, apparently because of SO’s admission a few minutes before in that same meeting that it was going to have to eat Kemper Coal cost overruns, SO stock tanked that same day, causing my stock to stop out, and Standard & Poor’s downgraded SO the following day because of Kemper Coal, noting that if the same thing happened with SO’s nuclear project at Plant Vogtle, S&P’s would probably Continue reading

Valdosta: 3rd poorest city

Valdosta #3! Followed by Albany #4! In poorest cities in the country. What can we do about that?

Michael B. Sauter, Alexander E.M. Hess and Samuel Weigley, 24/7 Wall St., wrote for NBC News 14 October 2012, America’s richest and poorest cities,

3. Valdosta, Ga.
  • Median household income: $32,446
  • Population: 140,599 (87th lowest)
  • Unemployment rate: 9.2 percent(140th highest)
  • Percent households below poverty line: 27.6 percent (ninth highest)

From 2007 to 2011, the unemployment rate in Valdosta increased by 130 percent, from 4 percent of workers to 9.2 percent. The number of employed workers declined by more than 6,000 during that time. Those jobs remaining often pay a lower salary. Last year, nearly 17 percent of the work force was employed in the generally low-paying retail industry, the sixth highest percentage of all metro areas. In 2007, just 11.3 percent of the labor force worked in retail. Valdosta, however, has an improving and active housing market. Home prices rose nearly 12 percent between 2007 and 2011. Despite these positives, 14.4 percent of housing units were vacant last year, higher than the national vacancy rate of 13.1 percent. Also, 15.3 percent of homes were worth less than $50,000 versus 8.8 percent nationwide.

The study is actually for “U.S. metropolitan statistical areas, or MSAs” and this population is not just for Valdosta, it’s for the Valdosta MSA, which includes Brooks, Echols, Lanier, and Lowndes Counties.

Look who’s next on the list:

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Andrea Schruijer’s Opportunity —John S. Quarterman

Here’s my op-ed in the VDT today. -jsq
Welcome Andrea Shuijer Schruijer to a great opportunity as the new Executive Director of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA)!

For a year I’ve been asking for a list of jobs attracted by the Authority. We welcome your marketing expertise so we’ll know the Authority’s successes!

We welcome your communications expertise to inform the community affected by the process of bringing new jobs. VLCIA could publish its agendas, minutes, and videos of its meetings, events, and new jobs on its web pages, and facebook, maybe even twitter.

We welcome your stewardship of the Authority’s $3 million/year in taxes. Maybe some

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Why solar cuts it better than any other energy source

Solar power is the fastest growing industry in the world, and south Georgia is an excellent place for it to grow and produce jobs, with plenty of rooftops and parking lots for solar panels.

This is despite the misinformation people with vested interests in other energy sources put out about solar power. After Dr. Matthew Richard made some points about solar vs. biomass, one of the members of the 6 December 2010 panel that VLCIA spent more than $17,000 to assemble to defend biomass responded that he was in favor of the nearby 300kWatt solar plant, but: well, I’m going to interleave his buts with what he’s ignoring. Continue reading

It’s an opportunity –John S. Quarterman

“Like a burned-over longleaf pine, we can come back from this recession greener than ever, if we choose wisely.”

Here is my response to James R. Wright’s questions about jobs and priorities. -jsq

It’s an opportunity for those of us who are not currently searching for our next meal to help those who need jobs, and thereby to help ourselves, so they don’t turn to crime. Like a burned-over longleaf pine, we can come back from this recession greener than ever, if we choose wisely.

Switchgrass seemed like a good idea five or ten years ago, but there is still no market for it.

Meanwhile, local and organic agriculture is booming, and continued to boom right through the recession.

Not just strictly organic by Georgia’s ridiculously restrictive standards for that, but also less pesticides for healthier foods, pioneered as nearby as Tifton. That’s two markets: one for farmers, stores, and farmers’ markets in growing and distributing healthy food, and one for local banks in financing farmers converting from their overlarge pesticide spraying machinery to plows and cultivators.

Similarly, biomass may have seemed like a good idea years ago, but with Adage backing out of both of its Florida biomass plants just across the state line, having never built any such plant ever, the biomass boom never happened.

Meanwhile, our own Wesley Langdale has demonstrated to the state that

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Pollution and a Private Prison? –Dr. Mark George

As the VDT transcribed:
“I think we can do better than a generator that burns human waste. I think we can do better than a private prison and those are two things that we seem to be excited about as a community.”
Dr. Mark George spoke to the Valdosta City Council, 20 Jan 2011:

We’ve previously written about CCA private prisons and AZ immigration law on 21 December 2010:

Considering how many local farmers and others around here use hispanic help without inquiring closely as to where they come from, a CCA prison in Lowndes County would be more than ironic.

Spending state tax dollars to lock people up while cutting funding for education that would cost less per person doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.

Is this what we want to be known for?

And in If it’s sunny enough in Buffalo on 16 September 2010: Continue reading

What is your plan? –jsq to VLCIA board

I just sent this. -jsq
From: “John S. Quarterman”
To: Brad Lofton
Cc: [see below]

Since I know of no public email address for the VLCIA board, I’m asking Brad Lofton to distribute this to the board before their meeting tomorrow.

Dear Board,

This is an update to my previous question to you, which was published in the Valdosta Daily Times, 20 Dec 2010, available online here:

I’m sending this letter directly to you, and also publishing it online,

What is the Industrial Authority’s plan to bring in real clean jobs?

Your staff have claimed that Wiregrass Power LLC’s tiny solar plant plus their biomass plant will make us a “center of innovation excellence for renewable and sustainable energy in Georgia.” Is that all?

If so, let me make a few suggestions.

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A “center of innovation excellence for renewable and sustainable energy in Georgia”?

In a recent message, Brad Lofton wrote “we plan to move on now and focus our attention on new job and tax revenue creating projects.” OK, what are those projects?

Back in September Brad Lofton told me that VLCIA had (beyond whatever Wiregrass LLC is doing) “other renewable green energy projects”, which he then refused to describe.

When I asked about these projects at the 21 Dec 2010 VLCIA board meeting, board member Gary Minchew responded that VLCIA couldn’t talk about sensitive negotiations, but they didn’t want to be secretive. Earlier I had been talking to the fellow sitting to my left about his green energy project and whether VLCIA was going to move forward on it. He pointed out to the board that he and I were facebook friends and linked on LinkedIn. He’s sending me some information; more on that when I get it. Meanwhile, I wonder why the board wouldn’t talk about his project, and I remain dubious that VLCIA has any other “renewable green energy projects”.

In that same meeting, Col. Ricketts and Brad Lofton went on for some time about solar energy, saying they were answering citizen concerns.

As one of the people who has asked them most frequently about solar energy, I have to say Continue reading

What’s the Industrial Authority’s Plan?

Appended is my LTE in the VDT today. I’ve added links. -jsq

What is the Industrial Authority’s plan to bring in real clean jobs?

MAGE SOLAR is hiring for the first of 350 jobs in its photovoltaic (PV) solar manufacturing plant in Dublin, Georgia, with half the population of Valdosta, in Laurens County, with half the population of Lowndes County. They’ve parlayed their position between the Atlanta airport and the Savannah seaport for many new clean jobs.

Suniva of Norcross’s second PV plant with its 500 jobs went to Michigan. Saginaw Valley calls itself Solar Valley and collaborates with governments, academia, and industry, winning thousands of clean jobs in wind and solar manufacturing and generating plants.

The Saginaw News remarked (7 Nov 2010): Continue reading

VLCIA Biomass “Forum” Tonight: Do they have a plan?

According to the VDT’s What We Think of yesterday:
All citizens of Lowndes County and any other interested parties are encouraged to attend the Biomass Forum Monday night, hosted by the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority, at 7:30 at the Conference Center.
Forum? As in people will get time to get real questions answered? And the VLCIA might be interested in real input?
The authority has invited a half-dozen individuals to speak, which will last approximately 60 to 90 minutes, followed by “ample” time for questions to be answered, at least 30 minutes, according to the Authority.
Hm, 3 to 1 they speak we listen. Interesting definition of “forum”. Also, despite VLCIA’s many complaints that people didn’t get involved early enough in their previous public meetings about this plant, if this event is listed on VLCIA’s own website, I can’t find it. It’s not on the VLCIA’s facebook page, either.

Although on November 10th there are two VLCIA facebook posts saying:

The Industrial Authority stands behind its decision for the construction of Wiregrass Power LLC and feels like this green project will be a win/win for the community.
So much for looking for input.

Anyway, back to the VDT:

The Times has presented several stories with facts concerning the $140 million project, which will generate 20 to 25 local jobs once the plant is up and running.
20 to 25 local jobs.

Meanwhile, in other places that have a plan:

What’s our plan, VLCIA? How about we plant trees instead of burn them?

And I agree with the VDT on this:

And to the Industrial Authority and invited speakers, you are urged to not insult the intelligence of those attending. They understand what the plant will do. What they want to know is how this will affect them in terms of health issues, air quality and safety, burning sewage, the number of trucks on the highway so close to several schools, etc.

The onus is on you, the Authority, to handle this in a much more professional manner than the last Sterling project.

More to the point, why is the VLCIA wasting its political capital (and our tax dollars) on this one polluting plant when it could be working to bring in real clean energy?

Does the VLCIA have a plan to raise the local metro area out of the bottom 10 for wages? Or is this 20-25-job polluting plant the best the VLCIA can do?

If you can’t come to tonight’s “forum”, or even if you can, here is contact information for your elected and appointed officials, including the VLCIA board.