Tag Archives: Okra Paradise Farms

Video: Solar panels, heck yeah! –Tom Fanning, CEO, at SO stockholder meeting 2017-05-24

Tom Fanning, our genial CEO host, said some things I’ve never heard him say before like Southern Company is “pivoting towards wind” and SO’s board soon has to decide whether to go forward with Plant Vogtle “or not” probably by August. Fanning gets the first and last word in this blog post, plus a complete transcript of what I asked and Tom Fanning’s response, along with summaries of the other questions and answers.

Well see how it develops --Tom Fanning
Please hear me! I think renewables are exceedingly important in the future.
— Tom Fanning, CEO, Southern Company

In SO’s own meeting video of the 25 May 2017 Stockholder Meeting, you can see much praise about solar power and wind and R&D and a smart grid, along with stockholders wondering: Continue reading

The Making Of Gretchen on WALB at Okra Paradise Farms 2014-04-02

Ever wonder what goes into the few seconds of video you see on TV news? As I promised reporter Colter Anstaetts when he interviewed Gretchen for WALB TV Friday May 2nd about Valdosta Farm Days (coming up again this Saturday 9AM to 1PM at the historic Lowndes County Courthouse in Valdosta), here’s The Making Of…, including birds singing, dogs rolling in the grass, Brown Dog frolicking and bouncing across, Yellow Dog prancing, red potatoes, and red, white, and blue corn at Okra Paradise Farms.

300x225 WALB report and camera, Gretchen and LAKE camera, in Valdosta Farm Days â??Gretchen on WALB, by John S. Quarterman, for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE), 2 May 2014 You can see both the WALB TV camera and the LAKE video camera in this picture.

After some initial discussion Continue reading

Valdosta Farm Days starts today

9AM to 1PM Valdosta Farm Days at the old Lowndes County Courthouse, first and third Saturdays, starting today.

City of Valdosta Pr 24 April 2014, Downtown Valdosta Welcomes Back Farm Days,

On market Saturdays, vendors offer a variety of goods for sale such as locally-grown, locally-raised, locally-produced fruits and vegetables, plants, herbs, meats, farm-fresh eggs and dairy products, organic produce, baked and prepared foods, snacks and coffee. Patrons will also find a variety of artisan and natural products including products made from recycled goods, birdhouses, handmade soaps and body products, candles, and honey products. Those who arrive early to shop have the advantage of beating the heat and getting the best picks of the season.

The market also serves as a venue to educate the community on healthy local options. Cooking demonstrations and Continue reading

Valdosta Farm Days begins today

9 AM to 1PM today at the historic Lowndes County Courthouse, 100 West Central Avenue, it’s Valdosta Farm Days, and every first and third Saturday from May through October.

Downtown Valdosta Farm Days

Come downtown to find the delicious taste of farm fresh food picked just for you, at Downtown Valdosta Farm Days! The market showcases locally sourced produce, food items, and arts and crafts from surrounding areas.

Come for the freshness and stay for the fun at Downtown Valdosta Farm Days!

We Accept EBT, CREDIT, and DEBIT!

DVFD on Facebook.

Gretchen with rosemary and Yellow Dog:

Continue reading

Austin Energy changed from anti-solar to pro-solar in one year

At the end of 2003, Austin Energy (AE) suddenly went from very anti-solar to very pro-solar. Formerly coal-smoking Cobb EMC is doing it right now. If AE and Cobb EMC can do it, so can Georgia Power: change in one year from opposed to aggressively promoting solar power.

Mike Clark-Madison wrote for the Austin Chronicle 5 December 2003, AE drops a solar bomb,

In a near-complete turnaround from its public position just a week ago, Austin Energy has announced plans to adopt specific, highly ambitious, and undeniably expensive goals for adding solar energy to the Austin electric and economic mix. At a town hall meeting held Tuesday night to discuss the AE plan — also the subject of a public hearing at City Council today (Thursday) — AE’s Roger Duncan announced the utility’s commitment to develop 15 megawatts of solar generating capacity by 2007, escalating to 100 megawatts by 2020. The AE plan also calls for a study of the “comprehensive value” of solar power — putting a dollar amount on the economic and environmental benefits to Austin, in addition to the cost of solar-generated electricity itself. This would determine the price Austin Energy would pay for electricity generated by privately owned solar installations, just as AE now buys wind power from third parties.

Georgians tend to think Georgia Power’s foot-dragging and disinformation campaign about solar is so entrenched it will never change. But I’ve seen it happen, and it happened despite people’s expectations set by the power utility, and it happened very quickly and very big:

Continue reading

Farm bill would reauthorize USDA REAP grants

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) wrote for The Hill 5 March 2012, REFRESH Act: Strengthen rural communities and U.S. energy security
Reauthorize and reform the popular REAP program to demonstrate opportunities for economically viable energy investments and encourage loans rather than grants.
Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) has long been working with local farmers and USDA to help with agriculture and rural jobs.

The Indiana Congress members continued:

Real commitment to rural growth requires that we put money where our mouth — or authorization — is. We offer basic mandatory funding that is more than paid for through cutting waste.

Renewable energy production creates jobs. Rural communities see potential for real economic growth in the emerging biofuel sector. Advances in technologies and agricultural techniques could offer economic benefits from coast to coast. Using the REFRESH Act as the basis for the next Farm Bill would help galvanize private investment in the sector, bringing jobs to a ready economy.

Indeed it can.

Obviously I like REAP grants, since we got one for Okra Paradise Farms. That 25% REAP grant plus an 35% ARRA NREL plus 35% GEFA credits will add up to 90% covered by grants and tax credits, which is a pretty good deal.

Now that remaining 10% is still a significant amount; like the price of a small car. But in 7-15 years (how long it will take to pay off this system, depending on how you figure it), what would the value of a car be? Much less than when you bought it. Meanwhile, these solar panels will be generating almost as much power as they are now, and they will continue to generate for at least a decade more, probably much more.

The big missing piece is up-front financing. Local banks will do it, but only for collateral. By which they mean real estate. Nope, they won’t take the solar equipment as collateral, even though it would still be operational many years from now.

Local banks or credit unions could see this as an opportunity and start accepting solar equipment as collateral. Beyond that, with a few changes to Georgia law, to deal with the power utility territoriality clause, and maybe to ban boondoggle charges for more dangerous and less job-producing power sources, we could get a commodity market in solar power in this state. You could put up solar panels like this, or more, on your house or business roof, and sell your excess power to somebody in Atlanta with less roof space. That would produce widely distributed energy, reducing need for foreign oil or dirty coal, lowering your electric bills, maybe even producing you a profit, and generating local jobs right here in south Georgia.

Private investment is ready to come in for utility-scale solar projects.

And companies like SolarCity that already do everything from financing to installation could do that in Georgia. Or home-grown companies could do that. Or local banks could finance while local companies installed.

Anyway, we have here on our workshop roof a proof of concept, operational right now, purchased partly via a USDA REAP grant.

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Planting Solar

When planting solar panels, be sure to tamp well:


Hannah Solar installing solar panels at Okra Paradise Farms;
Pictures by John S. Quarterman, 20 December 2011.

Actually, you may not want to try this at home, unless your panels have strong steel supports like these. Still, most solar panels are very sturdy.

More later on what’s going on here.

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Do you have solar energy yourself? Why yes, yes, I do

Grady Blankenship wrote a LTE in the VDT Wednesday, in which he asked “do you have solar energy yourself?” Why yes, yes, I do. And I have some questions for everyone at the end.

Back in 2009 we installed solar panels on our farm workshop. At the time the closest certified solar installer I could find was in Marietta. Four years ago there were 4 in the state. now there are forty. And that’s in a state that’s trailing North Carolina and even New Jersey in solar installations.

Also, I applied some weeks back for a USDA REAP grant for solar for Okra Paradise Farms. Much to our surprise, last week we Continue reading

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Network met yesterday

Yesterday the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Network had its second monthly organizationl meeting at the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce. It’s working up a business plan to submit to the Chamber Board for next year. The Chair is the eminent Dr. Dennis Marks, VSU Emeritus Professor, and the Chamber contact is ReKasa Deen of Opportunity Central. Here everybody says “renewable energy and solar power!”


Sherry Wheat (Hannah Solar), Sharon Jackson (South GA Solar Power), Ron Jackson (Production Community Services), Bill Branham (21st Century Telecom), ?, Dr. Dennis Marks (Chair), Matt Jansen (Boys and Girls Club), John S. Quarterman (Okra Paradise Farms), ReKasa Deen (VLCoC Opportunity Central)
picture by Myrna Ballard (VLCoC President) for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange

Sherry Wheat of Hannah Solar drove down from Atlanta to help me announce that Okra Paradise Farms got the USDA REAP grant we applied for, to add about 52 solar panels to our farm workshop. Hannah Solar helped us submit the paperwork in 3 days. More on that as it transpires.

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