The same Masayoshi Son who shook up Japan’s Internet market
and is about to do the same in the U.S.
is moving to modify Japan’s power market from nuclear to solar.
Watch out, Georgia Power and Southern Company!
If you don’t get a move on, Son-san will eat your lunch, too.
Billionaire Masayoshi Son made a fortune taking on Japan’s phone
monopoly. Now he aims to shake up its power utilities after the
worst nuclear crisis in 25 years. The 53-year-old chief executive
officer of Softbank says he will build solar farms to generate
electricity, with support from at least 33 of Japan’s 47
prefectures. He’s asking for access to transmission networks owned
by the 10 regional utilities and an agreement that they buy his
electricity. No other company has secured unlimited access to the
those transmission networks. The utilities would not comment.
Japan’s main business organization, the Keidanren, called for
“careful analysis” before any drastic change in the power system
If Japan ever felt ready to back Son’s ambitious plan, this is the
moment. Radiation has spread across at least 600 square kilometers
(230 square miles) in the northeast since the Mar. 11 earthquake and
tsunami led to meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant.
Outgoing Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in May he will rethink a plan
to increase atomic power to 50 percent of the nation’s energy output
from 30 percent. Renewable energy already accounts for 10 percent,
according to Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy. Son
wants to see that tripled by 2020. “The question is how this nation
is going to survive after cutting nuclear power,” he said at a
government panel meeting on June 12.
Wiregrass Activists for Clean Energy (WACE) have made it clear from
the start that biomass plants have a number of issues: 1) biomass
plants bear significant health risks; 2) biomass plants waste
enormous amounts of water; 3) biomass plants are risky investments
in an increasingly competitive energy sector; and 4) biomass plants
contribute to global warming.
In the light of rising global temperatures, worsening drought
conditions, and dropping prices for solar panels, an increasing
number of people are understanding these simple truths.
The Industrial Authority has to be congratulated for the courage to
admit that energy from biomass plants is indeed more expensive than
energy from solar plants, and we have not even figured in the costs
associated with the consequences of air pollution coming from
Although this point has already been made earlier, note again that
solar plants are much better alternatives, economically and
environmentally: they do not pollute our air, they do not need any
water, and a huge spill of solar energy is simply called a sunny day
… of which we have plenty here in the south.
I’d heard a rumor that some sort of lawsuit about the biomass site
was the subject of some of the Industrial Authority executive
sessions for real estate discussions.
VLCIA has finally said in public what their position is.
The Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority plans to send a
petition to Lowndes County Superior Court to sue Wiregrass Power,
LLC, for a clear title on the land purchased for the development of
a biomass energy plant.
The Authority believes Wiregrass defaulted on a lease agreement to
build the plant, placing ownership of the 22.22-acre tract back in
their hands, but Wiregrass denies the allegations. This denial casts
“a cloud” of suspicion on the Authority that may prevent
it from re-marketing the property, according to the petition,
leading to the suit.
Sounds like they’re publicizing their intent
to try to scare Sterling off without having to sue.
I’m for that.
Among regions, the South has the largest number of clean economy jobs
though the West has the largest share relative to its population. Seven
of the 21 states with at least 50,000 clean economy jobs are in the
South. Among states, California has the highest number of clean jobs
but Alaska and Oregon have the most per worker.
A per-county map is included, on which you can see North Carolina
and Atlanta, but nothing in south Georgia.
Let’s put Lowndes County on the clean energy map!
The gigaom article recommends:
To help boost the clean energy economy even more, the Brookings report
suggests that Congress could pass a national clean energy standard, put
a price on carbon, use the government as a chief customer of cleantech
goods (Obama has been strong on this), find more ways to help proven
clean technologies pass the so-called Valley of Death, as well as
increase funding for basic science and early-stage high risk projects
(like the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program).
Sure, we’re not nearly as big as those places, or so local “leaders” remind me.
So let’s find some projects of our scale that we can do, and let’s do them!
A real leader might say, as
Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio did, that
renewable energy is
“…the nexus between sustainability and job creation. Every now
and then, perhaps once in a generation, there presents itself a moment,
an opportunity, for those cities that are willing to seize it, to truly
benefit the region for generations to come.”
That opportunity is right here in south Georgia, waiting for us to seize it.
The Valdosta City Council could also hold an ethics investigation
of their own appointees to the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority,
on the topic of why those appointees are in favor of a project with
demonstrated health hazards to the community.
According to Ashley Paulk, a few months ago VLCIA approached the Lowndes County government, asking them to ask VLCIA not to extend Sterling Planet’s contract for the biomass plant. Chairman Paulk refused to accept that hot potato and instead laudably told the community what was going on. Yet there was a bit of a good idea in what VLCIA was asking. Lowndes County could pass an ordinance such as VDT is suggesting banning the incineration of human feces.
For that matter, wasn’t the rezoning to build a certain biomass plant according to a certain plan which has no expired? Maybe the rezoning is already null and void and the Commission just needs to declare it so.
Short of that, the Lowndes County Commission could demand transparency from VLCIA:
Nelson Hawk, after an excellent panel presentation at the
Georgia Solar Summit,
repeated the old canard that there’s not much land available for solar in the
I couldn’t stand it, and blurted out “parking lots!”
And airports, and road rights of way, and, let me think: rooftops!
Or waste water treatment plants, like
Valdosta just used,
or barns on the north edges of fields, or the acreage
Georgia Power is wasting on nuclear plants, or….
Gretchen Quarterman and Dan Corrie
Dan Corrie notes that Cobb EMC bought up
3600 acres in Ben Hill County for a coal plant.
That acreage could generate quite a bit of solar power!
Noting that I was there on behalf of the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
which takes these videos and puts them on the web,
I recommended to the Industrial Authority board that they
put their agendas on the web,
since they give those away at the door
and they don’t contain any of the details that they’re concerned
about revealing to competitors.
Recalling that I had previously had the audacity to
read their own charter to them,
or at least the parts about the general good and welfare of the community,
I reminded them that some areas that had successfully attracted industry,
such as Raleigh, NC, Austin, TX, and Portland, OR had said what kinds of
industry they wanted.
Expanding on the example of Austin, TX, I noted that they emphasized
clean industry, music, and arts, and that helped attract the kinds
of knowledge-based workers that our local Chamber of Commerce wants
for knowledge-based jobs.
Compliments to Mayor Fretti for saying we will competitively expand the Wiregrass Solar plant!
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
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 →
They have lots of other stuff on their
for tonight, including an appointment to the
Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBOA),
and an appointment to the
Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks & Recreation Authority.
ZBOA decides on variances to Valdosta’s LDR and Lowndes County’s ULDC,
including sign variances, much to the annoyance of
some local entitled rich people and of