Tag Archives: Sterling Planet

When will the Wiregrass Solar plant be expanded? —John S. Quarterman @ VCC 9 June 2011

Compliments to Mayor Fretti for saying we will competitively expand the Wiregrass Solar plant!

Responding to George Rhynes’ point, I said that while I had recommended moving Citizens to be Heard to the end of the agenda, it never occured to me that it might get moved after Council Comments, which did lead to an impression that Council did not want to hear and did not plan to respond. I noted that if Council videoed its own proceedings and put them on the web, that would help make the problem moot. I’m thinking videos distributed by the City Council itself would probably get more citizens viewing them than ones distributed by bloggers like me and George and by LAKE.

My main point was that, even though Brad Lofton and Col. Ricketts apparently never told Mayor Fretti, there was a larger solar array in Continue reading

Biomass plant approved for Macon-Bibb County

How to get a biomass plant approved in Georgia: tack it onto an existing business. Remember to get an industrial authority to use a public bond issue to expand the private business.

Carla Caldwell wrote in the Atlanta Business Chronicle 7 June 2011, Graphic Packaging gets $140M bond deal

A deal OK’d by the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority provides revenue bonds for a $140 million expansion of Marietta, Ga.-based Graphic Packaging International’s Macon, Ga. mill. Improvements will include the addition of a biomass boiler and a 40-megawatt turbine generator geared to reduce emergency cost and improve profitability, reports Macon Telegraph website macon.com.

The authority approved the deal on Monday for the provider of packaging for food, beverage and consumer products. The biomass system, which is scheduled for operation by mid-2013, is expected to generate power from about 400,000 tons of logging materials, mostly the tops of trees, the Macon newspaper reports. Graphic Packaging’s (NYSE: GPK) Macon mill makes an estimated 1,600 tons of paperboard daily.

Maybe we should put some parameters on the types of industry we want around here to avoid this happening with the bonds the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (and the Lowndes County Commission) floats.

This rationalization is precious: Continue reading

Sterling Planet wants to buy biomass site

Why would Sterling Planet want to buy the biomass site, unless they want to come back later and propose to build a biomass plant on it? Funny how the Industrial Authority didn’t mention this when they said Sterling Planet missed the June 1 deadline for building the biomass plant.

Here’s the relevant part of this morning’s VDT story by David Rodock:

The other major announcement at the meeting was the possibility of Wiregrass LLC exercising the option to purchase the 22.2-acre tract of land that was originally planned to be used for the biomass facility.

“We gave them the option to purchase the land based on certain terms and conditions,” said Gupton. “They basically sent us a certified letter prior to June 1 stating they wished to exercise their option to purchase the 22.2-acre tract of land within 60 days.”

“We are currently looking at the letter to understand if we agree if they have that option and will continue our due diligence,” said Allan Ricketts, project manager, via conference call. “We don’t know anything other than they have sent us a certified letter indicating that they would like to pursue that option.”

And why don’t you know anything other? Can nobody pick up the phone and call Sonny Murphy and ask him? You remember him, the Chairman of Sterling Planet who recently said:
It’s not over until it’s over.


Southern Company “bullish” on solar

Colleen Kiernan, director of the Georgia chapter of the Sierra Club, wrote in the Atlanta Business Chronicle 22 May 2011, Wind energy a viable option for Southern Co.’s portfolio:
Two years ago, Southern Co. claimed “Renewable energy sources like wind and solar are not really an option for us in the Southeast.”

Now the new CEO, Thomas Fanning, says he’s “bullish” on solar. While the new attitude on solar is refreshing,

I’ve seen this before. AustinEnergy went in one year from solar isn’t an option to Continue reading

Expand the array, publish the minutes, private prison is a bad idea —John S. Quarterman @ VLCIA 17 May 2011

Here’s what I said to the VLCIA board on 17 May 2011. Notes are appended after the video:

Expand the array, publish the minutes, private prison is a bad idea —John S. Quarterman @ VLCIA 17 May 2011
Regular Meeting, Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA),
Norman Bennett, Roy Copeland, Tom Call, Mary Gooding, Jerry Jennett chairman,
J. Stephen Gupton attorney, Allan Ricketts Acting Executive Director,
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 17 May 2011.
Videos by John S. Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.

Congratulations on the Wiregrass Solar commissioning. Since this was not ever the largest array in Georgia let’s encourage Mayor Fretti and Commissioner Powell to help VLCIA expand the local array.

Referring to Mary Gooding’s comments about people who wanted to see minutes probably going to be frustrated, I pointed out that Continue reading

Solar power is the peoples power —Alden Hathaway

After he talked about expanding the Wiregrass Solar plant by another megawatt, Alden Hathaway of Sterling Planet said this:
Solar power is the peoples power.

Whether you’re talking about grid tied power here in America tied to the wire, or solar in the rural countryside of Uganda, it’s immediately available and accessible in all sizes. So I can use it to power a cell phone, charge a laptop, put light in a school, or pump water in a hospital. Solar is immediately available to do that, without massive which is a barrier to development in much of the developing world.

And to development in south Georgia, for that matter. So we can leapfrog that barrier with solar.

Here’s the video:

Solar power is the peoples power –Alden Hathaway
Commissioning Ceremony,
Wiregrass Solar, Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 12 May 2011.
Videos by John S. Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.


Expanding Wiregrass Solar —Alden Hathaway of Sterling Planet

Alden Hathaway of Sterling Planet said he hopes to expand the Wiregrass Solar array in Valdosta to an additional megawatt, taking it from being one of the largest in Georgia to one of the largest in the southeast. This is the man Sterling Planet Chairman Sonny Murphy singled out for praise. This is the expansion project Sonny Murphy promoted in the Sterling Planet press release. Alden Hathaway knows what needs to be done, and Pete Marte and Hannah Solar stand ready to do it.

Alden Hathaway also talked about how solar helps load distribution on the electric grid, lowering electric rates for everybody. He remarked that once power companies realized that, they’d be for solar. More on that later.

But meanwhile, let’s ask Mayor Fretti and Commissioner Crawford Powell when they’re going to do this: Continue reading

Wiregrass Solar is the first of several projects —Sonny Murphy

Let’s look at Sterling Planet’s own press release about the Wiregrass Solar commissioning. What’s this about a first phase? And what’s the second phase?

Sterling Planet announces completion of one of Georgia’s largest solar generating projects: First phase of Valdosta solar project now supplies green energy to Georgia Power.

Sterling Planet, the leading national retail provider of renewable energy and other clean-energy assets, today announced at a commissioning ceremony the completion of a 200 kWAC output solar generating project in Valdosta. One of the largest solar arrays in the state of Georgia, the Wiregrass Solar, LLC project began commercial operation on April 6 and is now generating annualized output of approximately 350,000 kilowatt-hours. This is enough clean, emission-free electricity to power 350 Georgia homes using the average amount of 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity monthly.

Developed by Sterling Planet, Wiregrass Solar supplies green power for the Georgia Power Green Energy program, an option for the utility’s customers who voluntarily choose to support renewable power and help generate more of it in Georgia.

OK, that’s all good. Congratulations!

Also notice Sterling Planet doesn’t make the mayor’s mistake in saying this is the largest solar array in Georgia, like WCTV after Pete Marte of Hannah Solar corrected it, Sterling says “one of the largest”.

But what’s this about “first phase”? Continue reading

What are they thinking? —Dr. Noll

Dr. Noll has a few questions. This came in as a comment Saturday. I’ll be happy to ask VLCIA Chairman Jerry Jennett these and other questions when he calls me back. -jsq
Let me see if I got this right:
  1. The week before the last meeting of the Industrial Authority (IA) Wiregrass Biomass LLC sent a letter to the IA asking for an extension of the agreement to build the biomass incinerator. (June 1, 2011, is the current deadline.)
  2. Based on comments made by Chairman Paulk and others, all indications were that the IA may have been ready to vote down such an application for an extension of the agreement.
  3. However, the vote on biomass never came up at the IA meeting, and as a matter of fact, biomass wasn’t even discussed, as it was not even on the agenda. Apparently a few hours before the IA meeting, “biomass” (or a vote on the extension of the agreement with Wiregrass Biomass LLC) was removed from the agenda.
  4. This change of events (i.e. the removal of a vote on biomass) was based on an initiative by Mr. Jennett (Chair of the IA board), Mr. Ricketts (Project Manager of the IA) and Mr. Gupton (the IA lawyer) who went to Atlanta to have a little chat with Wiregrass Biomass LLC (or Sterling Planet).
  5. As a result of that talk, Wiregrass Biomass LLC withdrew their application for an extension of the agreement. Thus, there was no contract (or an extension of a contract) to vote on at the last IA meeting.
What sense would it make
Continue reading

I’m all for openness —Tom Call

The member who hardly ever speaks at board meetings makes a strong case for openness.

Tom Call called me back about the biomass plant, and we talked about a number of other matters. He remarked that he was not an appointed spokesperson for the Industrial Authority, so this is just him talking.

I asked him about Ashley Paulk’s remarks in the 26 April 2011 Lowndes County Commission meeting. Tom Call said VLCIA was not standing behind any other body, and he clarified what had happened.

He said the biomass plant had been brought to the Industrial Authority by Continue reading