SUMMERVILLE, Ga. — Even under Thursday morning’s overcast skies, the new 1,400-panel solar array perched on the roof of a Mohawk Industries building was generating power.
The array can produce up to 628,000 kilowatt-hours a year, roughly enough to power around 55 homes annually.
The project was a coming-together of flooring manufacturer Mohawk, clean energy firm Constellation, solar infrastructure firm United Renewable Energy LLC and utility provider Georgia Power.
Officials from all four were on hand Thursday morning to celebrate the new array’s unveiling.
Mohawk is leasing roof space at its Summerville plant to Constellation, which will own and operate the solar array.
A team from Alpharetta, Ga.-based United Renewable installed the array for Constellation, and Georgia Power is buying the power produced and pushing it back into Summerville.
Georgia Power has been seeking private parties across the state to join in solar production, not by mandating solar array construction, but through the utility’s Advanced Solar Initiative, which offers incentive pricing and rate programs for participants.
Murray Weaver, regional vice president of Georgia Power, said “the state’s program is “a model for the rest of the nation.”
“We see this as one of the arrows in the quiver,” he said of the Mohawk-Constellation array.
William Silva, president and CEO of United Renewable Energy, showed a live reading of the solar panels’ production on his iPhone Thursday morning.
The panels were producing about a quarter of their maximum potential under the gray skies.
“So they work,” Silva joked. “But they don’t work well at night.”
The array will peak in the afternoon, on clear days, he said.
Jenny Cross, vice president of corporate sustainability at Calhoun, Ga.-based Mohawk, said the company put in applications to participate in Georgia Power’s solar program, and the Summerville location was the spot drawn by the utility provider.
The Summerville site is now the first Mohawk-owned facility to be outfitted with solar panels.
Cross said solar technology has reached a point where it finally makes financial sense for private companies to invest.
“This our first foray into solar,” she said.
She said that “as it makes economic sense to do so” Mohawk will venture farther into incorporating renewable energy at its facilities.
The energy produced by the new Summerville solar panels will be sold back to Georgia Power, but Cross said it’s not out of the question to someday have on-site solar infrastructure producing energy for on-site plant consumption.
“It’s a nice start,” she said Thursday.
Mohawk’s Summerville plant is also home to the world’s largest integrated plastic bottle recycling facility. Officials aim to reduce the plant’s overall environmental impact by 2020.
Mohawk is the world’s biggest manufacturer of rugs, ceramic tile and laminate floors.
Contact staff writer Alex Green at email@example.com or 423-757-6480.
Solar panels installed on land owned by the Stephens County Development Authority are up and running.
The solar panels are located in the area of Turner and Wolf Pit roads.
Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin said that the panels were turned on and began producing 700 kilowatts of electricity to send to the Georgia Power grid on Tuesday morning.
Martin said it is part of an initiative by Georgia Power to increase solar power usage.
“Georgia Power Company wanted to increase the percentage in their portfolio of all sources of electricity, they wanted more solar,” said Martin. “So they created this advanced solar initiative and we became part of that.”
United Renewable Energy of Alpharetta, Georgia actually built and is running the solar panel farm.
URE leases the land where the solar panels sit from the Development Authority.
Martin said he feels participating in this project has a couple of different benefits for Stephens County.
“We own this land,” said Martin. “It was doing a good job of holding the world together, but nothing else. It was not productive. Now, with this addition to our community, it is in productive use.”
He also said it is exciting to be a part of the future that is solar power.
Martin said that the initiative was so popular in its first year that Georgia Power is selecting more sites to install more solar panels and grow the program.
He said Stephens County has submitted a number of sites for Georgia Power to consider.
“We have submitted the balance of our property out at that site for this round of consideration,” said Martin. “The other site that we did present (was) our roof mount, the rooftop at Stephens County High School.”
Martin said they hope to hear in late May or early June whether Stephens County has additional sites selected for more solar panels.
April 25, 2014
By Charlie Bauder
SunEdison Teams With United Renewable Energy To Help Businesses In Georgia Earn Revenue From Solar Installations
BELMONT, Calif., Feb. 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — SunEdison (NYSE: SUNE), a leading solar technology manufacturer and provider of solar energy services, and United Renewable Energy (URE), one of the fastest growing solar energy solution providers in the South East, are working together to create new solar opportunities in Georgia. Leveraging the Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative (GPASI), the two companies are currently collaborating on projects totaling approximately 1.3 megawatts (MW) with plans to do more.
A ~600 kilowatt (kW) solar power plant is scheduled to interconnect this week on land that was once an underutilized pasture. The project is on land owned by Tom and Pam Coleman. With zero up-front capital the couple expect to increase their revenue from land use by a factor of six. “As the independent owners of historic Bethany Farms Bed & Breakfast, we are always looking for ways to increase income without increasing costs to our customers. URE and SunEdison showed us how we could use a small area of our land for solar energy and make a profit from it. The whole process has been smooth and as an added benefit; having the solar power plant on our property has attracted a new customer base. We’re really pleased we did this.”
Separately, a ~700 kW power plant for the county development authority in Stephens County, Georgia is under construction and expected to be operational in March 2014. By partnering with SunEdison and URE, the county is able to convert undeveloped land to productive use by hosting a solar power system that generates revenue for the county. “The URE and SunEdison team have brought much needed economic activity to the county, and helped us bring revenue from land that had long been off the tax rolls,” said Tim Martin, executive director of the Stephens County Development Authority.
“We are proud to partner with SunEdison because their strong commitment to quality is a perfect fit with the way we do business. We are thankful for the vision of the Stephens County Development Authority and the Coleman’s in hosting these important projects, and for Georgia Power Company’s support of the booming solar market in Georgia and throughout the development and construction of these projects”, said William Silva, CEO of URE.
SunEdison’s keen focus on growth aligns well with Georgia Power’s goal to contract for nearly 800 megawatts (MW) of solar by 2017 through GPASI and other programs. For small and medium size solar installations, the GPASI program will help make it easier and more profitable for businesses, municipalities, schools and others to sell solar energy to Georgia Power. SunEdison is bringing its financial expertise, advanced solar technology and service capabilities to Georgia organizations to help them realize the financial and environmental benefits of renewable energy. Using proven scalable and replicable business practices is enabling SunEdison to rapidly grow its distributed generation business.
“Small to medium scale distributed generation solar is a major growth engine for our company. With the help of our local partners, our customers get the most value and profit from their installation.” Said Bob Powell, President of North America, SunEdison. “Having a partner like URE that we can trust to consistently deliver a quality customer experience is crucial to our business and we are looking forward to continuing to work together to bring new business to both of our companies.”
To learn more about how SunEdison and URE can help your organization benefit from the GPASI contact Keith Herbs, VP of sales at firstname.lastname@example.org or to submit a site online for consideration for a solar project, visit www.u-renew.com.
About United Renewable Energy, LCC
United Renewable Energy, LCC (URE) delivers practical and economical turnkey solar energy systems to businesses and utilities. URE provides consulting, development, design, sales and installation of solar electric systems. URE installs the highest quality solar products, and has developed exclusive solar quality control and safety procedures to deliver the best and safest solution for each of our customers. For more information, visit www.u-renew.com
SunEdison is a global leader in semiconductor and solar technology. SunEdison’s semiconductor business has been a pioneer in the design and development of silicon wafer technologies for over 50 years. With R&D and manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Europe and Asia, SunEdison enables the next generation of high performance semiconductor devices. SunEdison’s solar business develops, finances, installs and operates distributed power plants, delivering predictably priced solar energy and services for its commercial, government and utility customers. SunEdison’s common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “SUNE.” To learn more visit www.sunedison.com.
Forward Looking Statements
Certain matters discussed in this press release are forward-looking statements, including that the ~600 kilowatt (kW) solar power plant is scheduled to interconnect this week; they expect their revenue to increase by a factor of six; and a ~700 kW power plant for the county development authority in Stephens County, Georgia is under construction and expected to be operational in March 2014. Such statements involve certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. Potential risks and uncertainties include changes in applicable regulatory requirements and incentives for production of solar power; and general business and economic conditions, including seasonality of the industry, and other risks described in SunEdison’s filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. These forward-looking statements represent SunEdison’s judgment as of the date of this press release. SunEdison disclaims, however, any intent or obligation to update these forward-looking statements.
SOURCE SunEdison, Inc.
Partnering with United Renewable Energy, pet food manufacturer demonstrates commitment to renewable energy
FAIRBURN, Ga., May 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Nestle Purina PetCare today unveiled the Company’s largest solar array at its Atlanta pet food manufacturing facility. The solar array, designed and installed by United Renewable Energy (URE), represents the latest step in Nestle Purina’s commitment to environmental sustainability.
Fairburn Mayor Mario Avery joined a Nestle Purina delegation, as well as representatives from the offices of U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson and URE on the factory’s rooftop during a dedication ceremony for the nearly 1,900 glistening solar panels.
“Congratulations to Nestle Purina on this tremendous achievement,” Mayor Avery said. “I’m excited to be here on behalf of the people of Fairburn to mark another major milestone for this great company. Nestle Purina represents what we’re trying to promote in this community, and we’re glad you’re here.”
Nestle Purina Atlanta’s solar array will produce more than 585,000 kilowatt hours of clean sustainable energy each year, with this energy used to power equipment in various areas of the plant, including Processing, Packaging and the Warehouse. The amount of electricity produced annually by the solar array could power nearly 52 average-sized homes — or approximately 5,000 light bulbs — for one year. The carbon offset for a system this size equates to a C02 emissions reduction of approximately 16 million pounds.
Nestle Purina Atlanta, which celebrated its 40(th) anniversary in 2012, produces many of the world’s most popular and trusted pet food brands, including ALPO(R), Purina Cat Chow(R), Purina Dog Chow(R), Friskies(R), Purina Pro Plan(R) and Purina Beneful(R).
“We at Nestle Purina are passionately committed to creating a better world for pets and their owners, today and in the future,” said Mark Burns, Vice President and Director of Manufacturing for Nestle Purina PetCare. “Employing renewable energy at our manufacturing facilities is just one aspect of our overall company plan to create shared value for society, which means going the extra mile to make a difference for generations to come.”
Scott Sethman, Nestle Purina Atlanta Plant Manager, added, “We are committed to the continuous journey of doing the right thing for the environment, while looking for ways to remain competitive, not just here in Atlanta, but everywhere we conduct business.”
Nestle Purina purchases its electricity from Georgia Power Company, which derives seven percent of its total electric energy from renewable sources, including solar, wind and biomass.
All of Nestle Purina North America’s manufacturing locations have now implemented and maintain comprehensive environmental management systems, which have been certified by independent auditors to meet the internationally recognized ISO 14001 standard. Each Nestle Purina plant in the United States employs a person who is responsible for environmental and energy issues.
To help celebrate the launch of the new solar array, Nestle Purina made a donation of $5,000 to the Douglas County (Ga.) K9 Unit.
After Mayor Avery and Nestle Purina representatives spoke at today’s event, they participated in a “Purina-style” ribbon-cutting, conducted with the help of a Border Collie named Dealer. The three-time American Kennel Club Master Agility Champion traveled from Miami with his owner, Annette Alfonso, to take part in the celebration.
About Nestle Purina PetCare
Nestle Purina PetCare promotes responsible pet care, community involvement and the positive bond between people and their pets. A premiere global manufacturer of pet products, Nestle Purina PetCare is part of Swiss-based Nestle S.A., a global leader in nutrition, health and wellness.
About United Renewable Energy, LCC
United Renewable Energy, LLC (URE) delivers practical and economical turnkey solar energy systems to businesses and utilities. URE provides consulting, design, sales, financing and installation of solar electric systems. URE installs the highest quality solar products, and has developed exclusive solar quality control and safety procedures to deliver the best and safest solution for each of our customers. For more information, visit www.u-renew.com.
SOURCE Nestle Purina PetCare
/CONTACT: Keith Schopp, Nestle Purina PetCare Company, email@example.com, 314.982.2577; Keith Herbs, United Renewable Energy, LLC, firstname.lastname@example.org, 704.807.4723
Solar panels, like these atop Chattanooga Bakery Co., could soon be limited to those that pay for them in full. The Tennessee Valley Authority plans to cut off its subsidies for future installations for the remaining days of 2013.
Photo by Tim Barber
Chattanooga Bakery Co. may have picked a lunar name for its signature Moonpie, but the local bakery is turning to the sun this year to help make its world famous snack.
Atop the roof of the company’s Moccasin Bend bakery, 195 polycrystalline solar panels are turning the energy of the sun into electricity to help power the plant that produces its marshmallow treats. Aided by federal and utility credits, Chattanooga Bakery and more than a dozen other Chattanooga plants and offices are using rooftop solar panels to help cut their energy bills.
“This installation will help us hedge against rising energy rates, lowering our operating costs for the next 20 years,” Chattanooga Bakery Vice President John Campbell said about the 50 kilowatt system installed at his plant in January.
But renewable power enthusiasts worry that a new cap by the Tennessee Valley Authority on subsidies for such solar pholtaic power generation might create a type of solar eclipse and quickly turn the solar energy boom across the region into a bust.
“The solar energy industry is growing, getting more efficient and becoming an important part of the economy, but we’re going to cut it off before we’re even half way through the year,” said Stephen Smith, executive director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “TVA has set an arbitrary cap and mismanaged the application process in a way that suggests that TVA is just not serious about growing this technology.”
Smith and other solar backers object to the limit TVA imposed last fall on the volume of solar generated power the federal utility would buy at premium prices to help spur more solar generation. Effective in 2013, TVA will buy only 7.5 megawatts of solar generation at its premium price of 9 cents per kilowatthour above the average retail rate in the Valley. As of this week, about 250 solar energy proposals had already used up this year’s subsidy allocation, although some of the allocation may be recaptured later this year if the reserved projects aren’t actually built.
TVA spokesman Mike Bradley said solar power generation is growing for TVA and other power producers, but utilities can’t pay unlimited subsidies for solar power.
“Our goal is to encourage solar power growth as part of our clean energy vision and solar has certainly grown tremendously in our region,” Bradley said. “The cost of solar generation has gone down tremendously and we’ve adjusted our program to the market.”
Bradley said the fact that TVA’s allocation is already met “indicates the program is working and there is more interest in solar power.” Ultimately, solar and other energy generation must be sustainable and competitive and not rely upon market subsidies, he said.
TVA cuts its previous 12-cents-per-kilowatthour subsidy for solar to 9 cents per kwh and limited the number of projects it would support beyond small residential solar generation below 10 kilowatts.
But having reached the annual limit for solar subsidies from TVA, some solar energy developers worry that their businesses could wither while customers wait for next year’s allocation of more solar subsidies.
“I won’t be able to sign up any more customers until next January, and I can’t go that long without any work,” Gary Wolf, co-owner and lead installer at Sundog Solar Energy LLC in Nashville, told the Tennessean.
Solar installers in the South complain that many states don’t allow solar energy producers to sell directly to homes or businesses and must go through utilities.
“The states that are most successful are the ones that have the most predictable and dependable markets and allow free market competition (for end users),” said Bill Silva, president of United Renewable Energy LLC.
Silva and others expect solar energy to keep growing.
“I think it could supply 20 to 25 percent of our electricity,” Silva said. TVA now gets less than 1 percent of its power from solar.
“Solar has always been competitive over the long term, even before we had any subsidies,” said Thomas Tripp., owner of Big Frog Mountain in Chattanooga. “TVA has been supportive of solar power through the years, and TVA can’t just pay a premium price for all renewable power and remain competitive in the market. Ultimately, we have to prove that solar is cost competitive and I know thait is.”
WILMINGTON, NC (September 26, 2012)- For over 40 years, South Atlantic Services, Inc. (SAS) has been a leader in the contract manufacturing of automotive fluids and agricultural products. The company continues to be an industry leader and recently completed the construction of a 500 kW photovoltaic solar energy system at their manufacturing facility in Wilmington, NC. The rooftop system is comprised of 2,033 solar panels which will utilize 35,000 square feet of otherwise unused roof space. The system is mounted to the roof using a non-penetrating mounting solution that clamps directly to the standing-seam metal roof. The system will produce enough energy for 46 average American homes and offset the CO2 emissions equivalent to 78 passenger vehicles. The project was engineered, procured, and constructed using a local workforce by commercial solar contractor United Renewable Energy, LLC.
“This solar project provided a unique opportunity to enhance our corporate economics while providing energy from a renewable source and reducing our carbon footprint. It was successful from several perspectives. We look forward to considering similar solar projects in the future.” said Frank Hamilton III, SAS President. The system will help offset the energy costs of South Atlantic Services, Inc. and contribute towards the continued growth of the Wilmington, NC based company. SAS is focused on ways to stay competitive and manage their operating costs. The solar energy project follows closely behind a high efficiency lighting retrofit of over 350,000 square feet of manufacturing, warehouse, and office space. SAS also manages costs by recycling their corrugated waste stream. William Silva, President of United Renewable Energy, commented, “We are extremely proud of our role in helping South Atlantic Services demonstrate their commitment to clean, renewable energy as well as local economic development. This project is a great example of how solar is good for the bottom line.”
About South Atlantic Services, Inc. is a contract blender and packager of automotive fluids and agricultural products. Founded in 1971, SAS has been steadfastly dedicated to quality, stability, integrity, and delivery. The company’s 100+ employees draw on over 41 years of experience based on those ideals. SAS’ three facilities located in Wilmington, NC and Houston, TX, offer over 650,000 sq. ft. of dry storage and are ideally situated to accommodate the transportation of materials via water, rail, and truck. These facilities efficiently support the entire United States. For more information, visit www.south-atlantic-svcs.com. Or contact: 910.763.3496
About United Renewable Energy, LLC: United Renewable Energy, LLC (URE) delivers practical and economical turn-key renewable energy systems to businesses and utilities. URE provides consulting, design, sales, financing and installation of solar electric systems. URE installs the highest quality solar products, and has developed exclusive solar quality control and safety procedures to deliver the best and safest solution for each customer. For more information, visit www.u-renew.com. Contact: email@example.com, 888.649.0610
*Additional Photos Available Upon Request.
The Georgia Public Service Commission approved a plan by Georgia Power Co.Tuesday to acquire an additional 210 megawatts of solar generating capacity, more than tripling its investment in solar energy.
But a sharply divided PSC also gave a potential competitor to Georgia Power its blessing to appeal to the General Assembly to amend a 39-year-old law that gives the Atlanta-based utility the exclusive right to continue serving existing customers.
Under Georgia Power’s Advanced Solar Initiative, the company will buy solar power produced by both large “utility-scale” solar farms and from smaller projects operated by residential and commercial property owners.
Georgia Power, a unit of Southern Co., currently has 61.5 megawatts of solar energy under contract, enough to power about 7,600 hours.
That first foray into solar power two years ago was “a baby step” for the company and the PSC, Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald said Tuesday.
“This is a much bigger step the company is coming forward with,” he said. “It recognizes the value of solar generation and the effect it can have for consumers of our state.”
While the PSC supported Georgia Power’s plan unanimously, a subsequent motion by McDonald encouraging other solar utilities interested in serving Georgia to pursue their plans with the legislature passed by the narrow margin of 3-2.
Georgia Solar Utilities Inc., a company launched in Macon, Ga., earlier this year, filed an application with the PSC in September for authority to generate solar energy in Georgia on a utility scale.
But the commission’s staff recommended that the PSC dismiss the application, citing the 1973 Georgia Territorial Electric Service Act.
Rather than dismiss the proposal outright, however, the commission in essence urged Georgia Solar Utilities to appeal to the General Assembly to amend that law and open up the solar business to competition.
Commissioner Doug Everett, who supported the motion, argued that Georgia will need all the additional solar capacity it can get if the Obama administration regulates coal out of existence as a source of energy and curtails the new “fracking” technology that has made natural gas supplies more readily available.
“Where are we going to get the [power] generation to replace the coal industry?” Everett asked. “We’ve got to look at everything.”
But Commissioner Stan Wise said the PSC has no business taking sides on an issue likely to go before Georgia lawmakers.
“If they’re successful across the street, so be it,” he said, referring to the location of the state Capitol. “[But] for us to involve ourselves in what goes on across the street is inappropriate.”
Robert Green, CEO of Georgia Solar Utilities, said his company is prepared to fight for its right to compete for business in Georgia when lawmakers convene this winter.
Publication of Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce | June 2012
Dalton Utilities, in partnership with Georgia Power, has created a solar plant located on Dalton Utilities’ property. All of the renewable energy credits will become the property of Dalton Utilities. The initial phase of the plant, located on Looper Bridge Road in Dalton, went online in 2011. Construction on the second phase was completed in late March. The first two phases consist of more than 3,100 fixed-tilt solar panels and provide a combined capacity of approximately 700 kW, enough energy to power 95 homes.
Dalton Utilities has not stopped with just solar energy. The utility company is currently partnering with the University of Georgia to make algae even “greener.” The partnership was born two years ago in an effort to determine the effectiveness of algae in removing nutrients from wastewater. In the process, a multi-faceted benefit was discovered – algae is effective in removing nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen from the wastestream and algae is a great source for the creation of biodiesel. If everything goes as intended Dalton Utilities plans to build a full-scale production plant on its property with the ultimate goal to produce enough biodiesel to power the Utility’s diesel fleet.
The innovation of local businesses has resulted in many new ideas, methods and products, both then and now. As Cofield stated, “Anything we lack in education is made up with pure innovation.”
Innovation is thriving in Greater Dalton and it is all around us, whether we realize it or not.
Staff Writer – Atlanta Business Chronicle
The first phase of the plant went on line last March and is operating with a capacity of 350 kilowatts.
Construction of the second phase, due to be completed in about two months, will bring the plant up to 700 kilowatts, on its way to a full capacity of 1 megawatt of electricity. One megawatt of solar photovoltaic panels produces enough energy to power about 135 homes.
The plant is being constructed by United Renewable Energy LLC of Alpharetta, Ga., under a 25-year wholesale power purchasing agreement Dalton Utilities signed with Georgia Power in January of last year.
Dalton Utilities serves 77,000 customers in five Northwest Georgia counties.
Georgia Power is a unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co . (NYSE: SO).
PSC member touts alternative fuels
Tim Echols, a member of Georgia’s Public Service Commission (PSC), lauded several Dalton companies Monday for their push to use more solar power.
The PSC regulates state utilities, and Echols told the Kiwanis Club of Dalton that the state could face an electricity shortage over the next few years because utilities will be closing down some coal-fired plants because they will be too expensive to run under new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules.
“The EPA is coming down on utilities with an iron fist,” he said.
That means that companies and homeowners who can meet some of their own electricity needs by installing solar power can help ease that shortage.
Echols lauded U.S. Floors for its new Dalton plant. He said the solar array on that building is the largest rooftop solar power system in the state. He also lauded the solar facility on Dalton Utilities’ land application system site.
Echols said the growing cost of energy is a major concern for the state’s manufacturers. The PSC earlier this month urged the General Assembly to remove the sales tax on energy used in manufacturing to keep the state competitive with neighboring states that don’t charge such a tax.
DALTON, Ga. — Gray skies and the occasional rain shower may have put a damper on production Friday, but the dreary weather didn’t stop solar energy proponents from predicting a sunny future for Dalton.
“There is no other place in Georgia where you can take a 10-mile tour and see this kind of installation of solar energy,” Bill Silva, the president of United Renewable Energy, told about 50 people gathered in southern Whitfield County.
United Renewable Energy, which has installed many of Dalton’s solar energy sites, hosted a tour for Dalton leaders, business owners from across the state and officials involved in promoting renewable energy in Georgia.
The tour included a rooftop solar array at USFloors, a newly installed array on top of a landfill at Textile Rubber and Chemical Co., Dalton Utilities’ solar system and a solar tracking panel at IVC.
Georgia ranks 38th in the nation in solar development.
Piet Dossche, CEO of USFloors, told the group that for him solar isn’t just about the environment — it makes good business sense for his company.
The company has saved 40 percent on utility costs since installing the panels, he said.
“I’m not a tree-hugger; I’m a business person,” he said, amidst laughs from his listeners. “And the numbers do make sense.”
Dossche said he also prides himself in being a leader, creating a more diverse economy in Dalton’s carpet-heavy manufacturing world and helping the county become more energy independent.
Chip Howalt, CEO of Textile Rubber and Chemical Co., echoed Dossche’s endorsement. Howalt’s company has installed a solar array on top of an industrial landfill by using large cement blocks as ballast to anchor the solar panels. “It’s a feel-good thing, but it will yield immediate results to the bottom line,” he said.
Howalt said the company’s rule of thumb is that an investment must pay for itself in three years, a criteria the solar array will meet.
Dalton Mayor David Pennington said he is not surprised to see Dalton embracing solar energy. It is, after all, a city that developed cutting-edge carpet manufacturing, he said.
“Dalton is the innovative capital of Georgia — we have diverse thinkers and diverse innovators,” he said. “And if a company wants to begin making solar panels in Dalton, we will be happy to have them come.”
The state’s solar industry is growing steadily, but slowly, as the national industry explodes.
The sun preceded humans by four billion years, give or take an eon, and in another billion years it will consume us, if we don’t kill ourselves first or we somehow avoid being dispatched by plague, meteors, aliens or some other misfortune.
Another billion years. By then, if not a little sooner, Georgia surely will have figured out how to better leverage the golden opportunity that rises in the East every day. Or so it is hoped by this state’s growing legion of solar energy advocates.
“It could take many, many years, but we will get there,” says Lee Peterson, senior manager for Reznick Group’s national tax practice in its Atlanta office, where he has served as an advisor in renewable energy projects across the U.S. valued at more than $2.4 billion – but only a tiny portion in Georgia.
“Georgia is shackled to the 20th century,” Peterson says. “If all I did was look at Georgia, I’d think we were doing well. But I work all over the country, and I’m not kidding when I say we’re dealing with $500-million solar projects that have no chance of coming here because of systemic problems that keep Georgia from participating in the 21st-century economy, which has renewable energy as a major component.
“It’s disgusting, considering our potential, how much opportunity is lost, how much capital investment is passed up.”
According to the Georgia Solar Energy Association (GSEA), more than $5 billion in the U.S. has been invested in solar manufacturing since 2008, but Georgia received less than one percent of that action. Industry revenue in the U.S. was $6 billion last year, up from $3.7 billion in 2009, says the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA); the industry attracted more venture capital than any other industry in the U.S.
“It’s the fastest-growing industry in the U.S. I take that as a positive sign for Georgia, going forward,” says William Silva, president and CEO of Alpharetta-based United Renewable Energy. “We currently have 25 employees, and we’re looking at doubling our staff by the end of the year. The industry is booming.”
Our very own Shana Haygood is featured in Solar Energy Industries Association spot: Solar Works for America.
Shana Haygood is an attorney and as COO of United Renewable Energy she has a complicated job: reviewing documents, sorting through the different state and federal renewable energy incentives, parsing the nuances. But what she likes best about work needs no legalese to explain.
“The greatest opportunity in my position is employing people. Our company has created 25 new jobs in the past year and I am proud to have been a part of that. We are in a business with a conscience that challenges us every day.”
Shana was recruited to United Renewable Energy straight from law school and uses her legal training daily. “Contract review and document development are some of the most important skills that I bring to my position. The ability to manage multiple projects and give attention to the smallest detail are important when working with solar projects.”
On the other side of the detail work is the variety. “No two projects are alike. The target is always moving, the solution constantly different. Each jurisdiction (where a project is located) presents new challenges and exciting opportunity. ”
There is variety, too, in the background of employees who came to solar in mid-career. “Many of our employees have come from other industries and bring a variety of skills. Many of our installers have advanced degrees and are able to bring a truly professional approach to everything they do,” she said.
Part of Shana’s job is speaking to outside groups and that energizes her. “I have presented to conventions, seminars, schools and trade groups. So many people are interested in learning about renewable energy for many different reasons. I can blend my interest in education with the professional requirements of this job. I can’t imagine many other jobs that would permit me to share ideas, grow concepts and to keep everyone interested.”
Like other firms in the industry, United is growing. “Our company has specialized in industrial and utility installations and has sought out the most reliable technologies, while keeping informed about new developments. We have completed systems as small as 1 kilowatt in the years before solar found its footing. Now we have completed the first phase of a 1 megawatt utility project [with Georgia Power]. ”
There is no slowdown in sight. “Our company has accelerated at an exponential rate and intends to keep creating jobs. Our work environment is fast- paced, with high expectations and focused on the goal.”