Tag Archives: Virginia

Solar faster, cheaper, no cooling water, no leaks, no explosions

Way back in 2014 I calculated that half the right of way acreage of the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline could produce just as much electricity, cheaper, faster, taking no land, using no cooling water, risking no leaks or explosions. Solar is even cheaper now, doubling deployed capacity every two years, and even Duke, FPL, and Georgia Power are building solar farms everywhere. So why do utilities persist in building more pipelines?

Net generation, United State, all sectors, monthly, Chart
Net generation, United States, all sectors, monthly, U.S. EIA.

Every electric utility can read that chart from the U.S. Energy Information Agency, which shows wind (the middle orange line) and solar (the green line coming up from the bottom) adding up to almost all of “other renewables” (the top blue line), with nothing else growing like that. All the pipelines rammed through regulatorially captured agencies don’t come close Continue reading

Georgia Power new acquisition AGL’s Pivotal LNG exporting through Jaxport

Back in May 2015, Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning and Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers both told me “If we can’t do coal, we have to do pipelines”. I-75 through Atlanta, Macon, Valdosta, I-10 through Lake City A year in the making, Southern Company bought pipeline company AGL Resources. Turns out AGL Resources is also an LNG export company, exporting through Jacksonville by LNG containers on trucks. And the plot thickens with the pending corporate takeover of CSX Railroad by the former CEO of Canadian Pacific, given that CSX depends a lot on carrying coal, which remember is what Southern Company is rapidly getting away from. Could CSX want to carry LNG? Meanwhile, LNG containers are already rolling down I-75 and I-10 to Jaxport, apparently through Atlanta, Macon, Valdosta, and Lake City.

Southern Company PR, 1 July 2016, Southern Company and AGL Resources complete merger, create a leading U.S. energy company, Continue reading

Charter school referendum preamble is Parent Trigger jargon


A pressure group for privatizing schools is the origin of the jargon in the charter school referendum on the November Georgia ballot. And yes, it’s tied to ALEC.

In Our south Georgia school tax dollars would go to Virginia rich people, Karen Noll asserted “…the wording that is on the preamble comes straight out of ALEC documents….” The preamble to the charter school amendment on the November ballot reads:

Provides for improving student achievement and parental involvement through more public charter school options.

Where else is that wording found? Combinations of the three phrases “student achievement”, “parental involvement”, and “charter school” actually are not very common, according to google. But the Parent Trigger wrote in Empowering Parents,

Policy initiatives that empower parents are likely to increase parental involvement and satisfaction and raise student achievement by inviting parents into the process.

What process?

The designers of the California Parent Trigger made a grave mistake by leaving tepid reform modules in the bill and allowing districts to override the parents’ reform choice.

The Georgia constitutional amendment wouldn’t leave school districts any ability to decide anything.

What would the parents’ reform choice be?

Continue reading

Democrats and Tea Party: both against charter school amendment

In the same month, both the Lowndes County Democratic Party and the Valdosta Tea Party had speakers explaining how bad the charter school amendment is. Neither group took a vote, but it seemed pretty clear most of the attendees at both meetings were against that referendum on the November ballot, and mostly for the same reason: nobody wants an unelected state committee taking away local control and local tax revenue. Parental choice is one thing, and charter schools are another, but nobody seemed to like Atlanta taking away local control.

As the PAGE slides say,

This isn’t a Democrat vs. Republican debate. Legislators voted across party lines to put the constitutional amendment on the ballot. Republican and Democrat voters must defeat it together.

You can watch for yourself. Here are the two presentations:

If you don’t want Atlanta taking away our educational control and local tax dollars, vote No on the charter school amendment in November.


The charter school amendment is about control —Dr. Troy Davis @ LCDP 2012-09-10

Lowndes County Schools Assistant Superintendent Troy Davis gave his personal opinion: “it’s about control”. The charter school amendment on the November ballot is not about charter schools, which any community in the state can create now. It’s about control by the state of local schools and resources.

Dr. Davis pointed out Georgia already has 350 charter schools, up from 160 three years ago. All but 19 were established and agreed upon by local communities. There’s a successful one in Berrien County, established by the Berrien County school board. The process to create more is in place in every community. If we wanted one in Lowndes County, all it would take would be for one of the two school systems (Lowndes or Valdosta) to approve one.

He suggested looking at the sources of funds for Families for Better Schools, which is backing the amendment. Top of the list is a Wal-Mart heir. (It’s Alice Walton. Dr. Davis deferred to Al Rowell for that information, and that’s also where I heard about Alice Walton. And as I discovered, the Walton Family Foundation put in much more than that last year.) He noted the bulk of the rest comes from for-profit school operators. (They include K12 Inc. of Virginia.)

He noted that the state of Georgia just passed this fiscal year the third largest budget in the history of Georgia, $19.1 billion. Yet the public schools have been cut $6.6 billion (apparently since 2002). And the Lowndes County school system lost nearly $8 million last year, and $43 million in the past 10 years. So he asked:

Continue reading

Our south Georgia school tax dollars would go to Virginia rich people —Karen Noll

Received yesterday on K12 CEO Packard: $5M in 2011, up 36% -jsq

Keep in mind that this company is based in Virginia, so our tax dollars from say, South Georgia meant for our school teachers, administraters, supplies, and educating our students, would go to bolster the economy in Virginia and line the pockets of the very rich. Meanwhile we have to raise taxes to simply educate the students attending our public schools. This is clearly NOT a plan to ‘improve academic achievement’ as the preamble boldly lies.

The preamble is boldly inaccurate and completely biased. The wording added to the question on the ballot implies that the amendment would improve student achievement and parent involvement. My stars, what breathing individual doesn’t want those things.

Facts are that by some measures charter schools perform 3% worse than traditional public schools. We would hope that schools where parents have to sign a commitment of parent involvement would have superior parent involvement. Might I just add that students can be kicked out of charter schools and all students are educated in the Traditional Public School setting as per our Georgia constitution.

The ‘biased and inaccurate’ wording in the preamble to the charter schools question is not found in HB 1162, the law that allowed this question to be placed on the ballot. It is not in HB 797, the law thaw would be enacted should the amendment pass. NO the wording that is on the preamble comes straight out of ALEC documents, which are the equivalent of ‘legislation for Dummies’ with a particular slant as you might imagine.

-Karen Noll

Prisons bad for education budget

Building a prison is not just a bad business gamble now that crime rates are down and state budgets are tight. It’s bad for other things, too. As the reporter who originally broke the story about the empty new prison in Grayson County, VA noted 2 January 2011, Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, a national group that promotes criminal justice reform, summed it up:
“Corrections over the past 25 years has become an increasingly big component of state budgets, to the point that it’s competing for funding with education and other core services,” Mauer said. “And you can’t have it both ways anymore.”

If we want knowledge-based jobs here, a private prison is not how to get them. Let’s not build a private prison in Lowndes County, Georgia. Spend those tax dollars on education instead.


“We really need it in the county really bad.” —Grayson County, VA

Is Lowndes County in such bad shape that we, too, want a private prison, no matter that there’s no business case for it? Or should we learn from one bad business bet and not double down on another?

Susan Kinzie wrote in the Washington Post 30 May 2011, New Virginia prison sits empty, at a cost of more than $700,000 a year

This is how bad the economy is in southwestern Virginia: People are wishing they had more criminals in town.

That’s because Grayson County has a brand-new state prison standing empty. No prisoners. And that means no guards, no administrators, no staff, no jobs.

“I wish they would go ahead and open it up,” said Rhonda James of Mouth of Wilson, echoing many residents there. “We really need it in the county really bad.”

Three hundred new jobs — maybe 350 — that’s what people were told when the prison was planned. With about 11 percent unemployment and no relief in sight, that sounded really good to an awful lot of people here.

But months after the commonwealth finished building the 1,024-bed medium-security prison for $105 million, it remains empty, coils of razor wire and red roofs shining in the sun, new parking lot all but deserted and a yawning warehouse waiting for supplies.

And it’s costing more than $700,000 a year to maintain.

Meanwhile, the story continued, Virginia has closed 10 prisons due to budget shortfalls and lack of prisoners. And it’s not just Virginia: Continue reading

Wind + Google = Atlantic Wind Connection

Susan Kraemer writes in Clean Technica about Google Builds First US Off-Shore Superhighway for Clean Energy:
Some very exciting news for US clean energy today. Google announced on their blog last night that they will invest in building 350 miles of transmission off the Atlantic coast from New Jersey to Virginia to tap into a gigantic off-shore wind potential that has only just been opened up this year with the first-ever US approval of an off-shore wind farm, by the Obama administration.

The new transmission cables, a superhighway for clean energy, will enable the connection of up to 6,000 MW of offshore wind turbines. That’s equivalent to 60% of the wind energy that was installed in the entire country last year and enough to serve approximately 1.9 million households.

Putting this system in place removes the major barrier: the lack of infrastructure, and should – with a friendly administration, jump-start off-shore wind in this country.

Doesn’t the Georgia Bight (coast of Florida, Georgia, SC, and NC, aka the South Atlantic Bight) have similar wind potential? Maybe somebody should start building a wind farm off of Savannah and invite google to fund transmission lines from there, too.


Communities, not Cul de sacs

Update: Trees make streets safer and Fixing a perfect storm of bad planning and design.

Eric M. Weiss writes in the Washington Post on 22 March 2009 about In Va., Vision of Suburbia at a Crossroads: Targeting Cul-de-Sacs, Rules Now Require Through Streets in New Subdivisions

The state has decided that all new subdivisions must have through streets linking them with neighboring subdivisions, schools and shopping areas. State officials say the new regulations will improve safety and accessibility and save money: No more single entrances and exits onto clogged secondary roads. Quicker responses by emergency vehicles. Lower road maintenance costs for governments.
Banning cul-de-sacs was one of the New York Times Magazine’s 9th Annual Year in Ideas, because it’s safer and less expensive: Continue reading