Phoenix Solar to construct 135-acre solar project in Georgia for Silicon Ranch

Nashville-based renewable energy provider Silicon Ranch Corp. and Green Power EMC, the renewable energy supplier for 38 Georgia Electric Membership Corporations (EMCs), are set to begin construction on Silicon Ranch’s 20 MW AC project in southeast Georgia.

phoenix solar projectSilicon Ranch has selected California-based Phoenix Solar to construct the ground-mounted solar project near Hazlehurst, Ga. Once completed, it will be one of the largest solar generating facilities in Georgia, occupying approximately 135 acres and incorporating over 89,000 solar modules.

Furthermore, the facility will generate more than 43 million kW hours of clean, renewable electricity annually. That amount of clean energy offsets nearly 30,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions from burning nearly 32 million pounds of coal or, put another way, the emissions from more than 6,000 passenger cars.

Phoenix Solar plans to secure local subcontractors and craftsmen to provide some of the on-site work for the 6-month construction project. The solar field’s construction is expected to support between 100-200 direct and indirect jobs, with a direct financial impact estimated to exceed $25 million.

Jeff Pratt, president of Green Power EMC, said the project serves as a clear signal of the company’s commitment to add more solar energy to its portfolio. Under the agreement with Silicon Ranch, who will own and operate the facility, Green Power EMC will receive all the energy it produces over a 25-year period. Pratt said the 20 MW project at Hazlehurst, once completed, will produce enough electricity to serve some 3,000 EMC households and will nearly double the total renewable capacity of Green Power EMC – from the current 32 MW to about 52 MW.

“We are of course excited about the environmental benefits of this project, but we are equally proud of our ability to offer the benefits of solar energy to Georgia’s member customers through their participating electric cooperatives,” Pratt said. “Additionally, this project will bring economic benefits to the region, moving us even further down the road to providing sustainable opportunities for our member customers and the State of Georgia.”

Silicon Ranch Corporation is a top 15 solar owner-operator in the U.S. and provides customized solar solutions based on the needs of its customers. Silicon Ranch has been instrumental in enabling many of its customers to accomplish numerous firsts in their marketplaces. Silicon Ranch also owns and operates Georgia’s largest solar farm in Social Circle, Ga.

— Solar Builder magazine

Dominion Acquires Richland Solar Center

dominion-logoWith its acquisition of the 20-megawatt Richland Solar Center facility, Dominion has upped its contracted solar generating portfolio to 364 megawatts.

Dominion announced the acquisition of the facility from HelioSage Energy April 15. Located in Twiggs County, near Jeffersonville, Georgia, is expected to enter service in 2015 and has secured a 20-year power purchase agreement and interconnection agreements with Georgia Power. An engineering, procurement, construction contract has also been signed. The center is expected to qualify for the federal Investment tax credit.

“The Richland acquisition adds to our diverse generation fleet fuel mix and furthers Dominion’s goal of having 625 megawatts of contracted solar generating capacity in service by the end of 2016,” said David A. Christian, Dominion Generation CEO.

Dominion’s total contracted solar generating portfolio consists of 364 megawatts in operation or under development in California, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Tennessee and Utah. The 7.7-megawatt Azalea Solar Power Facility, located outside Davisboro, Georgia, is also owned and operated by Dominion. The company plans to develop up to 400 megawatts of utility solar generation in Virginia by 2020.

— Solar Builder magazine

Washington Gas Energy Systems Holds Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies in Georgia

GA Solar ArrayWashington Gas Energy Systems Inc. just announced the completion of 20 solar projects, totaling more than 15 megawatts, that will produce renewable energy for Georgia Power. The company held ribbon cutting ceremonies at their sites in Donalsonville and Richland, Ga. on Thursday, Dec. 11, and another event in Greenville, Ga. on Friday, Dec. 12.

“These projects significantly increase renewable energy capacity in the state through the Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative,” said Sanjiv Mahan, chief operating officer of Washington Gas Energy Systems. “We commend this program for spurring economic growth in the solar energy industry while reducing the carbon impact of Georgia Power customers, and look forward to completing more projects through this partnership with our diversified offerings across the energy eco-system.”

All of the solar arrays will be owned and operated by Washington Gas Energy Systems under 20-year Power Purchasing Agreements (PPAs) with Georgia Power. The project in Donalsonville is a 2-megawatt ground-mounted system composed of more than 6,000 solar panels, and is expected to produce more than 3,000-MW hours of electricity annually. The project was developed by Office of Solar Development and all engineering, procurement and construction was performed by Cantsink Manufacturing.

The Greenville project is a 1-megawatt ground-mounted solar away at the Meriwether County Industrial Development Authority. It is composed of more than 3,000 solar panels and expected to produce more than 1,500-MW hours of electricity per year. Engineering, procurement and construction was managed by Hannah Solar.

In Richland, the 1-megawatt solar project consists of more than 7,000 solar panels and is expected to produce more than 1,500 megawatt hours of electricity per year. The project was developed by Inman Solar in collaboration with the City of Richland and the Richland Development Authority. Other Washington Gas Energy Systems projects under construction in Georgia include sites located in Montezuma and Homer, each sized at 1-megawatt. All projects are expected to be completed by February 2015.

— Solar Builder magazine

Obama’s Nuke-Powered Drone Strike on America’s Fiscal Sanity

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hwassermanSo the “all the above” energy strategy now deems we dump another $6.5 billion in bogus loan guarantees down the atomic drain. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has announced finalization of hotly contested taxpayer handouts for the two Vogtle reactors being built in Georgia. Another $1.8 billion waits to be pulled out of your pocket and poured down the radioactive sink hole.

A nuke-powered drone strike on fiscal sanity.

While Fukushima burns and solar soars, our taxpayer money is being pitched at a failed 20th century technology currently distinguished by its non-stop outflow of lethal radiation into the Pacific Ocean.

solarornukes

Take that $6.5 or $8.3 billion and invest it right now in wind, solar, sustainable bio-fuels, geothermal, ocean thermal, wave energy, LED light bulbs, building insulation and Solartopian south-facing windows.

The money is to pump up a pair of radioactive white elephants that Wall Street won’t touch. Georgia state “regulators” are strong-arming ratepayers into the footing the bill before the reactors ever move a single electron—which they likely never will.

Sibling reactors being built in Finland and France are already billions over budget and years behind schedule. New ones proposed in Great Britain flirt with price guarantees far above currently available renewables.

The Vogtle project makes no fiscal sense … except for the scam artists that will feed off them for years to come.

Substandard concrete, unspecified rebar steel, major labor scandals, non-existent quality control … all the stuff that’s defined this industry since the Shippingport reactor started construction outside Pittsburgh some six decades ago is with us yet again.

It would be nice to say this is merely $6.5 billion wasted. But that’s the tip of the iceberg. Long Island’s Shoreham and New Hampshire’s Seabrook came in at 5-10 times their original cost estimates.

Shoreham never made it to commercial operation. Neither did Seabrook Unit Two.

Should Vogtle, for which these loans are designated, beat the odds and actually go on line in the years to come, it will multiply its sunk cost by irradiating the countryside and creating radioactive waste nobody can handle.

Nor can it get private insurance to shield future victims and the taxpaying public from the inevitable disaster. The next commercial reactor to explode (joining the five that already have) will do damage in the trillions.

Its owners will not be liable, and the people making this decision will never go to prison.

But many along the way will pocket major fortunes from substandard construction, corner-cutting “safety” scams, black market parts purchasing, mafia-run hiring operations and the usual greasing of radioactive palms that defines all reactor construction projects.

Take that $6.5 or $8.3 billion and invest it right now in wind, solar, sustainable bio-fuels, geothermal, ocean thermal, wave energy, LED light bulbs, building insulation and Solartopian south-facing windows.

THEN we can dent in our climate crisis.

THAT’s where the jobs are.

THERE would be an all-the-above energy strategy that actually makes sense.

Visit EcoWatch’s NUCLEAR page for more related news on this topic.

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Harvey Wasserman edits www.nukefree.org, where petitions calling for the repeal of Japan’s State Secrets Act and a global takeover at Fukushima are linked. He is author of SOLARTOPIA!Our Green-Powered Earth.

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Southern States Need to Divest From Coal and Invest in Renewable Energy

FLFI

By Angela Garrone

The cost of importing coal is a drain on the economies of Southeastern states, particularly in those states that rely heavily on coal-fired power. In an updated report, Burning Coal, Burning Cash the Union of Concerned Scientists use updated market data to determine just how much money is leaving the Southeast to pay for coal. In total, the following Southeastern states and their respective utilities spent $6.4 billion to import 93.5 million tons of coal into the region in 2012. We examine how much each of these states is spending to import coal and how these states could better use that money for in-state clean energy projects. Dollars leaving our states to buy coal are dollars that are no longer part of our local economy and are fueling a heavily polluting industry from cradle to grave.

Alabama

Alabama relies heavily on coal-fired power, with 40 percent of the state’s energy in 2013 coming from coal. Despite many misconceptions, however, most of the coal burned in Alabama came from outside the state and cost a significant amount of money. In 2012, Alabama imported 18.5 million tons of coal from six U.S. states and Colombia, which accounted for 75 percent of the coal burned in Alabama coal plants. Due to this significant amount of imported coal, Alabama ranked eighth nationally for money spent on net coal imports and first in the nation for expenditures on international coal imports. The state’s largest power provider, Alabama Power, sent $710 million out of state to purchase coal and Alabama Power’s parent company, Southern Company, ranks first among all U.S. power providers for coal import dependency.

AL

Energy efficiency is one of the quickest and most affordable ways to cut coal-fired power while boosting the local economy. Yet Alabama’s energy efficiency potential remains largely untapped. The state budgeted just $2.09 per person on ratepayer-funded electricity efficiency programs—101 times less than Alabama utilities spent on imported coal. Thanks to reductions in wind costs and recent advances in low-wind speed technology, several wind projects are underway in Alabama. Alabama Power purchased 404 megawatts (MW) of wind power from Kansas and Oklahoma in 2012. We are hopeful that Alabama Power will continue to increase investments in wind and solar power and decrease its reliance on dirty, coal-fired energy.

Tennessee

Although Tennessee has reduced its reliance on coal, it continued to rely on coal to provide almost half of its energy in 2013. More than 99 percent of the coal burned in Tennessee is imported from eight other states across the country. In 2012, the state spent a net total of $905 million to import 18.4 million tons of coal—making Tennessee the ninth highest state nationally in terms of coal import dependency. The Tennessee Valley Authority, which produces electricity for the vast majority Tennesseans, ranks third among U.S. power providers for coal import dependency, spending nearly $1.4 billion in 2012 on out-of-state coal across its holdings in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky.

TN

In a recent TVA Board meeting, CEO Bill Johnson laid out an aspirational goal of moving to a more balanced resource portfolio that would include only 20 percent reliance on coal-fired power. Tennessee’s energy efficiency resources are largely untapped—ranking thirty-first nationally for state achieved energy efficiency savings. As TVA continues its 2015 IRP planning process, we are hopeful that TVA will continue to reduce its reliance on coal-fired energy and increase its in-state renewable and energy efficiency resources.

Georgia

Georgia relied on coal to provide around 39 percent of its energy in 2013. Power producers in Georgia paid nearly $1.7 billion to import 23.4 million tons of coal—primarily from Kentucky and Wyoming. Georgia ranks third highest in the nation for money spent on net coal imports. This high ranking is not surprising considering that Georgia Power, Georgia’s largest power provider, is also a subsidiary of the top-ranking importer, Southern Company.

GA

Georgia is not in the top ranks, however, among states with significant energy efficiency savings—coming in forty-second in the nation with 0.11 percent savings in 2011. Although Georgia has a wealth of renewable energy resources like solar and wind, unfortunately only 2.3 percent of Georgia’s energy was generated by renewable resources in 2012. In its most recent Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), Georgia Power set out a plan to procure 735 MW of solar energy by 2016. We support Georgia Power’s recent commitments to retire coal plants as well as its investments in the clean energy economy; we look forward to the growth of renewable energy across the state.

Florida

Florida relied on coal-fired power for around 20 percent of its total energy in 2013. Like many Southern states, Florida has no in-state coal supplies. Although the tonnage of imported coal declined by 35 percent between 2008 and 2012, total coal expenditures only dropped 19 percent. This discrepancy is due to the fact that the average price paid for coal in Florida increased from $70.04 per ton to $88.16 per ton, which are among some of the highest prices in the U.S.

FL

Power producers in Florida paid nearly $1.3 billion to import 14.5 million tons of coal from as far away as Colombia. Florida ranks fifth nationally for money spent on net coal imports and second for expenditures on international imports. Seminole Electric Cooperative sent $282 million out of Florida to purchase coal in 2012, more than any other electricity provider in the state. Four additional Florida utilities—JEA, TECO Energy, Gulf Power and Duke Energy—spent more than $100 million on out-of-state imports in 2012.

Florida’s major utilities are required to implement cost effective efficiency programs, but the annual goals last set in 2009 are not being fully achieved. The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) is currently working with utilities to set new efficiency goals for 2015 and beyond. It is important that the PSC establish meaningful efficiency goals and ensure utilities develop and carry out strong plans for achieving them. Florida is beginning to develop its solar resources, with more 200 MW already installed, including Florida Power and Light’s 25-MW solar photovoltaic facility in DeSoto County. Still, Florida lags behind other leading solar states and lacks sufficient state-wide policies to catch up.

North Carolina

North Carolina is another state without its own coal supplies, and yet it relied on coal for around 41 percent of its in-state electricity generation in 2013. Power producers paid nearly $1.8 billion to import 18.7 million tons of coal to burn in their coal plants, which ranks North Carolina second in the nation for net coal import expenditures. Duke Energy, North Carolina’s largest utility, sent $1.7 billion out of state to purchase coal in 2012 and ranks second among all U.S. power providers for coal import dependency, spending more than $2.2 billion on out-of-state coal across its holdings in six states. Although the total tonnage of imported coal declined by 36 percent since 2008, total coal expenditures dropped only 25 percent as the average price for coal in North Carolina increased from $79.85 per ton to $93.74 per ton.

NC

In 2011, Duke Energy agreed to adopt an annual efficiency savings target of 1 percent starting in 2015. Savings from energy efficiency measures can also count toward a portion of the state’s renewable energy and efficiency resource standard. North Carolina has a wealth of renewable energy resources like sustainable bioenergy, solar and wind; yet these resources supplied just 2.1 percent of the state’s power in 2012. However, utilities are making progress toward meeting a requirement to produce 12.5 percent of the state’s power needs from renewable energy by 2021.

Not only does coal cost our Southeastern states a lot of money, burning coal for electricity also threatens our health on a daily basis. Most recently, a toxic chemical used to process coal leaked from a tank at a Charleston, WV coal plant into the Elk River—resulting in a water ban in nine counties that affects 300,000 residents and causing the governor to declare a state of emergency. This is just the most recent example of one of the myriad dangers communities are exposed to by reliance on coal-fired power. It is time for Southeastern utilities to divest from coal and invest in a clean energy economy.

Visit EcoWatch’s COAL page for more related news on this topic.

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