A number of years ago, the City of Austin purchased this land
planning to install a new coal-fired power plant. When those plans
fell through, a landfill was proposed for the site that now boasts
280 acres of solar panels with a view of downtown Austin along its
Of course, it doesn’t have to be that big, or all in one place.
How about on top of a landfill?
How about on the cotton fields
next to Valdosta’s Sallas Mahone Elementary School?
Energy to air condition the school instead of drifting pesticides,
and profit to the landowner!
How about at the airport?
At the mall parking lot?
On top of the new county palace?
On the warehouses in Hahira?
AUSTIN, Texas , Jan. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Austin Energy
along with Austin City Mayor Lee Leffingwell , and Village of
Webberville Mayor Hector Gonzales today announced the activation of
a 30 megawatt (MW) solar power plant located within the Village of
Webberville, Texas . The activation of the power plant marks the
first utility-scale solar deployment for Austin Energy and helps
bring the utility one step closer to achieving a 35% renewable
energy mix by 2020. It is the largest active solar project of any
public power utility in the country, the largest active project in
Texas and among the largest of all operating solar projects in
America. The project was activated on December 20, 2011
The key was a PPA:
The utility-scale solar project was made possible through a 25-year
solar power purchase agreement in which Austin Energy will purchase
the energy at a fixed rate along with the renewable energy credits.
In Georgia, PPAs can be made with municipal governments,
universities, companies, or even individuals,
if SB 401 passes.
As a tree farmer myself, I know the pulpwood market is down in Georgia due to the recession and foreign competition. I’d like to be convinced that biomass is the new market we need, but the more I look into it,
the more obfuscation I encounter.
As we’ve seen, the
Center of Innovation – Energy
defines solar as a southwestern energy source (see slide 9).
That slide uses a version of this map:
I found that map on Georgia Power’s web pages.
Meanwhile, here are
Georgia Power Solar Projects.
Hm, “a rooftop solar demonstration program”, “plans to install solar panels at schools in each of the company’s regions”, “showcase its technology”.
Where’s the actual rapid deployment?
While Georgia did little to deploy renewable energy, Texas
has almost doubled its renewable energy source from 2004 to 2006:
How did Texas do that, and how can Valdosta and Lowndes County help Georgia catch up?
Some years back, Austin, Texas, which has been growing rapidly for decades,
needed to find a way to produce more energy.
Building a coal plant was not really an option for a city that had long
sold itself as a home of green industry.
Nuclear had a bad taste because in the 1980s Austin had been an investor
in the South Texas Nuclear project, which had been late, over budget,
never produced what it was supposed to, and had many political problems.
So Austin settled on a new plan: instead of spending big bucks to build
a dirty coal plant, use the same money to give rebates to homeowners
and businesses for installing solar power.
Big rebates: 75%, the largest, and among the first in the country.
This made perfect economic sense, producing as much new energy as needed,
without coal or nuclear, and distributed where it was needed.
The Austin, Texas, city council has approved Austin Energy’s solar incentive program, which includes a new approach for commercial, multifamily and nonprofit customers. The new approach saves $2.4 million over the life of the program, according to the utility.
Last week, American Youthworks, a nonprofit aimed at at-risk youth,
received $1.4 million in federal funds to build a green charter high
school that will prepare students for jobs in solar-panel installation,
green facilities management, and other jobs.
In the last few years, Austin Community College received $99,031 from
Workforce Solutions for solar and weatherization training and, more
recently, $59,800 from the Department of Labor to increase the number
of women in green job training programs.
And ACC is hoping to bring more funding to Central Texas in federal grants. ACC is part of a group of Texas community colleges that have
applied for $3.5 million in funding to build solar-energy training
Education, solar, weatherization; who could argue with those things?