We Need A Real Debate On Solar, Not Attacks

For some reason, Todd Rehm of GA Pundit has made it his mission to see a bill I co-sponsored, HB657, cleaved from the heard and left to die in the wilderness. Rehm has posted several snippets, article etc.. critical of the bill and has taken to calling it “sham legislation” and invoked my name repeatedly. Rehm’s latest infers I misled the public. Rehm uses Grover Norquist as a bludgeon to claim I want to place a “hidden tax” on the unsuspecting citizens of Georgia. Nothing could be further from the truth. As I wrote last week, the bill would authorize the PSC to work with a solar utility to offer solar power to the people of Georgia. Three members of the PSC have spoken favorably about the bill.

Let me point out that I am the fourth signer on HB657. Fourth signers of legislation rarely receive attention for co-sponsoring. Can you name the fourth signer of any piece of legislation over the past few years? I didn’t think so. Rep. Rusty Kidd is the author and principal sponsor of HB657 so I had no part in drafting, nor do I have the authority to make changes to the bill. I put my name on the bill because I support solar power and want to see it advanced in Georgia.

I don’t read Rehm’s website or emails every day so I don’t know for sure how many times he’s used my name in his criticism of the bill. However, his persistence in invoking my name begs the question as to what exactly his motives are. I’m not interested in a “blog war” but I won’t stand by and let him tell his readers I’m a tax and spend liberal.

As I’ve stated, I support the aims to HB657. I want to see solar technology advanced and improved. I also support Georgia Power’s increased use of nuclear power and solar power. In short I want to see new technologies used to address our needs and solve problems we face. A serious debate needs to take place in the coming months about HB657 and solar power in general. What we don’t need is cheap attacks for the purposes of generating pageviews.

43 comments

  1. johnl says:

    Rehm used to be a contributor to this site. He was generally combative with people who disagreed with him. Does that have anything to do with why he is no longer a contributor here?

    • Noway says:

      Ditto on that. I wondered where he went. He once implied I was less than truthful when he and I had a difference of opinion on how loud a silencer was on a pistol. Never understood that. Perhaps I caught him on a bad day. Strange.

  2. James says:

    Buzz, I agree that we need a serious debate about solar power in general. As demonstrated in your post last week, however, a lot of Peach Pundit readers took issue with the bill. You never responded to their criticisms and questions.

    • sockpuppet says:

      @James:

      A lot of the criticism of the bill was because people supported another solar bill that would allow folks with rooftop solar panels and similar sell their excess power to the grid. While that bill had its merits, it offered no potential to help create an energy sector in this state like this bill does. If anything, the bill that critics of HB657 support require state and federal tax breaks and other subsidies to defray the very expensive costs of putting solar panels on your roof to be somewhat viable, as well as a massive cultural change – large numbers of homeowners and businesses all of a sudden caring about solar panels when they currently don’t – to have any real impact. That is a bill that sounds a lot better in theory than it is in practice.

      Another problem that a lot of folks had with that bill is that it would create a solar monopoly. Well, I will believe the anger at the proposed solar monopoly is legitimate when they start standing up to the existing fossil fuel/nuclear monopoly that is Georgia Power. Also, a lot of folks to the right of center got a lot of mileage (amongst themselves that is, not out of voters) out of Solyndra. Well, allowing the creation of a regulated solar monopoly is the best way to get a solar company that actually stays in business and turns a profit instead of one that goes out of business like Solyndra did.

  3. bkeahl says:

    I can’t speak to Mr. Rehm, but it sounds as though I may share his views of the legislation.

    Abound Solar, Beacon Power, Ener1, Solyndra, Sunpower, Evergreen, and four or five others litter the landscape as bankrupt solar energy companies subsidized by the government.

    Much like the electric car industry (trying to build practical electric cars since before the 70’s), the cost and environmental footprint left behind by these technologies is staggering. Solar involves toxic substances, the panels don’t last forever like people think, the repair/disposal costs are astronomical, and the return on investment is very low or negative.

    It’s be great to harness the power of all those photons streaming off the sun, but we’re better served harnessing the power of the atom.

    • benevolus says:

      To get to the true cost of nuclear, we should factor in the cost of disposal. But we don’t even know how we are going to do that let alone know how much it will cost.

    • jpthom says:

      Wow, bkeahl, you need to read your history. Tremendous number of oil, gas and coal companies went bankrupt despite government (taxpayer help) when we were trying to start those American industries. And, again, from the mid-1980’s to the early 90’s, hundreds of oil-service companies went bankrupt and others cut back or merged with competitors. And the coal industry is still a major risk, just as no nuclear plant can even go on the planning books without taxpayer help. This investment of taxpayer dollars is natural and pervasive across every industry – just like telecommunications (including internet services).

      Solar manufacturing materials toxicity and dangers are nowhere near the persistent hazards of non-renewable energy sources. And the ROI on these non-renewable industries is way off if you fully count the research, production cost, healthcare impact, air quality, water quality, protection by the military, and so on. Can you buy anything today for your home of business with a 25 year guarantee – product and production? That’s what solar does.

      The military recognizes renewable energy as the future of being able to compete, protect and be prepared. Solar in space is working forever, even in harsh environments such as where the mars rover is still charging it’s electric motor. As Buzz says, let’s not kill what could be America’s next great job engine, cost container and revenue maker…you sound like the guy who was against electricity in the home, steam engines and automobiles when they first arrived…

  4. D_in_ATL says:

    Something I’ve never understood; why the requirement to sell back/connect to the rest of the power grid? Is there a safety issue here or is this just a result of Georgia Powers lobbying prowess?

    • bkeahl says:

      Actually D, it works to the homeowner’s benefit. Say you’re gone to work all day, A/C is set to not run a lot, and you get home near dark. All that extra electricity those solar panels generates when you’re not home using it goes back onto the grid and GA Power buys it from you.
      You get home a night, the sun is down, and you have no energy save what GA Power generates with nuke, oil, and coal plants. So they sell you energy as they always have. The benefit is the cost is less to you from GA Power because of the revenue you generated selling solar to GA Power.

      • D_in_ATL says:

        I understand the benefit; why the requirement? Not to lay this solely at the feet of Georgia Power…I understand this is an industry standard.

        • Stefan says:

          Well, the monopoly provider would rather build it’s own plant and then have you buy electricity from it, vertical integration etc. If GP were acting a a pure energy delivery company, it wouldn’t care who or what provided the power, it would just decide primarily on price. But here, because GP refuses to take power from an individual homeowner (even though the line, the bill, the connection, the everything already exists) due to a market inefficiency created by monopoly, you have to make them. Otherwise, rooftop solar isn’t nearly as cost efficient.

        • ditchdigger says:

          In GA companies are forbidden to “sell” electricity to a “ratepayer” other than the utility that services this area under the Territorial Rights Act. Therefore, to sell to the grid (or utility) is only option. So after reading this bill I see why it works and why it offers the “ratepayers” an opportunity to see lower electric rates over time. I think the bill is also coming at a time when the utilities know that their current business model is threatened by technology that can deliver electricity detached from fuel costs. What we are seeing is GA Power with a fleet of buggies and a marketing campaign (perhaps stealthily executed) that says, “Buggies are forever…no need to buy a car…continue to rent our horses….”

  5. sockpuppet says:

    The saddest part about this piece is that it makes it appear to be a back and forth between Rehm and Brockway (who himself is not exactly above “cheap attacks for publicity”) than talking about real, larger issues.

    And these issues are actually bigger than solar. Instead, it is the tendency of conservatives to follow and not challenge conservative ideology. Here you have good conservative Georgia leaders like Rusty Kidd and Brockway attempting to be leaders and propose something innovative and you have folks like Todd Rehm and bkeahl bashing them because of what Grover Norquist and others say. It goes like this:

    A) Grover Norquist (or Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Bill Kristol or the WSJ) states an opinion.
    B) The people from group A) are famous, successful conservatives.
    C) We should listen to A) at all times in all places and contexts because of B) instead of thinking for ourselves and coming up with our own ideas and producing our own leaders. Or should I say “leadership” constitutes people who will simply follow and enact what the national conservative types say and think.

    Not only is that counterproductive in general, but it is even more so on the energy issue. Here is the deal: the leading conservative thinkers and opinion makers receive heavy financial support from the oil and gas companies. The Club for Growth, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, you name it. The oil and gas companies are among their leading backers, benefactors, subsidizers or what have you. And even the ones who don’t receive money from the oil and gas companies oppose alternative energy as a reflex. The liberals and environmentalists support alternative energy and oppose oil and gas companies, so conservatives naturally back the traditional energy sources and companies and oppose the alternatives as a response.

    Now I have nothing against the oil and gas companies. They are very to our economy and way of life. And I have nothing against oil and gas companies exercising their right to free speech and to influence public policy by supporting political candidates, think tanks, activist groups etc. that are friendly to their point of view. But when all is said and done, a huge reason why all talk radio and conservative magazines and blogs and the guys on Fox News talk about is drilling in ANWR, offshore drilling, the Keystone XL pipeline, oil sands, shale, “the natural gas revolution” etc. to the exclusion of everything else is because the oil and gas companies are writing their checks. To those folks, oil and gas are always going to be the way to go, and everything else is going to be risky, unproven, a gamble, a tax, and – of course – liberal.

    Now if we were an oil and gas state like Texas, Louisiana, Alaska or North Dakota, then being a cheerleader for the oil and gas industry would be worth not bucking the prevailing neocon thinking on energy matters. But as Georgia is not a fossil fuel state, then promoting oil to the exclusion of everything else is ridiculous because it doesn’t put money in our pockets. Instead, we should be doing everything possible to leverage what we have in this state to produce our own energy and grow our own jobs, even if the result is slightly higher power bills. Is paying 5% more in power worth 50,000 or 100,000 jobs in our state? Of course it is, and the only ones who claim otherwise are the ones who are being paid by the oil and gas companies to say so.

    What do we have in Georgia? We have sunlight, and lots of it. We have the ability to turn agricultural byproducts into fuel, as well as to grow things solely for the purposes of turning it into fuel. And we have two of the best research universities in the south – Georgia Tech and UGA – to come up with new ideas, a leading financial/marketing center in Atlanta to come up with ways to turn those ideas into commercial products, as well as major transportation hubs like Hartsfield and Savannah to get whatever we need for an alternative energy sector into this state and whatever we produce out of it.

    Again, the oil and gas companies aren’t bad guys, but let’s face it: whatever Georgia could come up with in the way of alternative energy is bad for THEIR business. So of course they are going to bankroll an army of paid spokesmen posing as conservative commentators like Norquist and whoever to talk it down, and to claim that supporting it is akin to joining hands with Amnesty International. Now they have the right to do this, of course, but it is our job to realize that they are doing it and politely ignore them while we go about the business of doing what is best for our state.

    Take the fellow above who claims that electric cars will never be viable, as if he has some sort of time machine or something. I say that the battery technology has already made major advances in the last 15 years, and who knows how powerful and efficient batteries will be 15 years from now. The point is that if electric cars or whatever else does become viable 15 years from now, it would be in our best interests to make sure that Georgia has plants that can recharge them or build those batteries. If we keep listening to the folks who have a financial interest – either direct or indirect – in being 100% reliant on getting oil out of Texas (and Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Russia and Iran I might ad) we never will.

    Actually, we won’t. Why? Because if we don’t develop it, someplace else will. Another state that doesn’t allow out of state conservatives to dictate their economic development policy, including – gasp! – a blue state. Or another country – maybe one in the EU or in Asia – who cares more about providing workers for their people than earning an A+ from Cato or Club for Growth. And if that happens, we will be relying on both the existing fossil fuel energy source PLUS whatever the good folks in New Jersey or India develops in their universities and venture capital funds and get to market. Or to use language that you can understand, in the energy game we will be takers instead of makers. How ironic would it be if the Chinese are the ones who figure out how to get energy out of peanuts, peaches and cotton instead of us, and then charge us through the nose for it? That turn of events would be no less than what the Grover Norquist parrots deserve.

    • jpthom says:

      Well said, sockpuppet, and there are other countries leading the way while we’re stuck being commanded by lobbyists to stay with the stuff that we don’t have enough of, will run out of, and will get more expensive. When it gets more expensive, we’re stuck with what we got and in Georgia we make nothing fossil. We’re totally dependent and the monopoly power companies enjoy that model because they are for profit companies.

  6. debbie0040 says:

    This is a good bill that Georgia Power is pulling out the stops to defeat in order to stifle competition. They are putting out wrong information….

    We are going to help push this bill next session.

    I think we should push for a repeal of the infamous SB31 that gave GA Power the right to pre-bill rate payers now for a nuclear plant that will be online sometimes in the future..

    • Bob Loblaw says:

      Oh Lordy, here she goes (off) again…

      Nobody is “pre-billing” anyone for the Vogtle reactors, that would be illegal.

      Customers are paying “financing costs” of the new construction. That is not “pre-billing,” as one can’t be billed for energy that they did not use.

      Nevermind the facts or details.

      • Charlie says:

        Customers are paying a front loaded “return on investment”, or what most of us call “profit”, to the tune of about a billion dollars, before the first watt of power is generated. And, it’s not all customers. Just residential and small business customers.

        So instead of trying to obfuscate the issue by parsing Debbie’s language, why don’t we just stick to those facts and details.

        • Bob Loblaw says:

          Obfuscate? Stick to what “facts and details”? I was talking about SB 31, which I believe was what she was referring to as establishing “pre-billing” for electricity (which it is not) and now, you apparently have added “return on investment” to the discussion. Notwithstanding neither are correct.

          I doubt reading the law will happen, here. But if you did, you’d find that the law puts a statutory tariff that requires GP to collect financing costs. If you’d rather find perspective outside of the statute, took a look at the current lawsuit sitting before the Court of Appeals on the subject (Barnes/Richardson) and you’ll get an even clearer picture of how the law applies, what the tariff is for (financing construction costs) and how it is calculated. The crux of the suit against GP is that the financing cost was taxed (sales tax and franchise fees). Financing costs are expressly prohibited from sales taxes.

          The investment is that of the ratepayers, not the power company’s.

          • Charlie says:

            Dude, seriously. We’ve covered it here extensively, and SB 31 changed the rules to front end load the “financing costs” to include ROI – “profit” – and to exempt large commercial customers from paying for any of it. You’re usually the one that demands an end to the doubletalk. I suggest you take some of your own advice on this issue quickly.

            • Bob Loblaw says:

              One statute’s expressed “financing cost” is a pundit’s “profit”, I guess. Sounds juicier.

              • Charlie says:

                Return on investment = profit. But you know this already. I would appreciate it if you would quit trying to insult the intelligence of our readers by trying make it not so. You won’t win this battle, for this client or any of your others.

                As you lawyers like to say, “govern yourself accordingly”. And sending me a nice friendly tip under your real name in a few days won’t make this any better, so I would suggest you stand down now.

          • “The investment is that of the ratepayers, not the power company’s.”

            Who needs shareholders then if the ratepayers are the ones required to make the investment and take the risk?

    • mjones says:

      As one who works in the solar industry, I certainly have issues with GA Power, but the analysis of energy issues needs to extend beyond: GA Power like = bad / GA Power no like = good.

      This bill creates an unnecessary monopoly which will raise solar prices and make it less competitive in Georgia. Through barring other solar providers in the marketplace, this bill would actually stifle solar’s growth in GA, because it would keep prices artificially high. I want to show everyone that not only is solar a great, unlimited source of energy, but it’s economically viable as well. This bill would remove the latter part of my argument. I don’t expect any special handouts, just give me a level playing field.

      GA Solar Utilities, the company which supports this bill, because it benefits them while excluding others in the industry, has admitted it creates a monopoly. http://onlineathens.com/general-assembly/2013-03-25/bill-would-create-solar-monopoly-georgia I suppose if my company was the one being granted the monopoly, I might feel differently about the bill.

      I thought the Tea Party was opposed to this type of behavior: government intervention to favor one group over others.

      Perhaps you could tell us why this is a good bill? Why is it needed?

      • WakeUpGA says:

        You posted Walter Jones article which isn’t accurate. MJones, HB657 doesn’t stop you from doing solar for any business or home. It takes care of all the rest of the people you can’t install solar for (highrise dwellers, renters, too shady, etc) which doubles the market because all the projects are competitively bid by companies like you. Sad how you failed to read the bill yet still have an opinion. Drive up the costs? Really? This bill allows bonds at 4-5%. How much private capital wanting 8-12%? What’s cheaper per watt – a single job or a large order? Do you think AT&T bids projects out job by job or do they use economies of scale?

        I hope you read the bill. It never mentions a company. It says community solar provider must win that position competitively and that all projects must be in the best interest of “ratepayers”. Maybe the name should be changed from “ratepayer” to “captive customer”.

        So bad bill because it doubles your job potential and helps all customers enjoy lower electric rates over time?

        • mjones says:

          The bill’s sponsor, Rusty Kidd, mentions in the Athens paper, your bill is written as a monopoly for your company. Your President, Robert Green, mentions it’s a monopoly. I’ve read the bill and it’s written in a way to describe your company. Everyone acknowledges it’s for your company, except you, who wants to maintain you’re leaders are putting in corporate resources simply for altruistic reasons – to advance the good of solar for all of GA. Give me a break.

          Through your misinformation, your lobbying team is destroying the goodwill we’ve built up in the Legislature. The best thing you can do for solar is to pack up your bags and go home, before the Solyndra comparisons start coming out.

          GA Legislature – Please don’t squeeze out all the solar providers in favor one monopoly, give me a fighting chance and I’ll beat these guys in the free market every time.

  7. cheapseats says:

    Too many folks have a 10+ year old mind set about PV energy. If we subsidized PV the way we’ve subsidized “main stream” electrical sources then PV would come out at least equal (if not ahead) of coal, nuclear, hydro, etc.

    As it is, PV is making enormous strides – without a lot of economic props (picking winners and losers) in the market. Still, for the average homeowner (me, specifically) the upfront costs are too significant to consider as a “win” so, I won’t be installing any PV in my lifetime. I actually own bonds to help pay for a Ga Power project that I personally think is a boondoggle but, the bonds are a good deal for me.

    I am NOT voting with my wallet in this case – I’m just trying to make it ’til the end of my natural life.
    Ga Power SUCKS! But, the current economic climate makes them a good bet….for the members of the Ga Gen Ass, too. Sometimes, you just hold your nose.

  8. WakeUpGA says:

    Finally, wisdom spoken by Buzz, Debbie, Kidd and others! I’ve read the bill several times from start to finish. Even found a typo that needs to be fixed. This legislation is remarkable! It decouples solar from GA Power yet compensates them for grid access and distribution. It establishes a registered community solar group to administer the PSC’s wishes for additional solar based on voluntary subscription. It makes sure all projects come via competitive bids (from the solar industry) based on the “optimization” of the grid. It denies the use of State monies as subsidies and can only go forward if the new solar adds “no upward pressure” on electric rates! But wait, hold on to your pants, it goes even further – new solar assets must lead to long term downward pressure on electric rates! I repeat, this bill is remarkable and a conservative’s dream come true!

    I used to like reading Rehm’s stuff in the morning and even like the puppies. But he obviously has been at the Capitol too long and buddied up to close to the utilities to be objective or truthful. I pray for his soul mainly because of breaking 1 of the 10 Commandments is a sure reason to pray for a person’s soul and “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” is one if the 10. So who are our neighbors? Well that would be every “ratepayer” as the bill calls them that will never see lower electric rates until this bill made law. GA Power is not at fault. What else can a billion $ corp do but spend that $ paying others to misinform the masses so they keep on guaranteeing “ratepayers” more and more expensive electricty.

    I suppose Rehm’s running Eaton’s campaign and his “battlefield” conversion to solar for the GA Power 210MW ASI pays off in spades since Eaton was bankrolled by GA Power’s Troutman buddies and other cozy utility “good ole boys”. When it that debt paid off? Will it end once GA Power’s ASI gets deployed and yet not one penny of the new solar will lead to lower electric rates? So how much $ is Rehm asking for to switch sides?

    Debbie thank you for speaking up. The Tea Party is proving to be a real force in GA and I appreciate your direct words! I commend you and the sponsor and co-sponsors of this bill! It can be improved in some committee if need be, but the one this it does do is open up solar in a way that allows all “ratepayers” to benefit and that is NEW! The solar companies seem to only worry about their own pockets and projects for properties that can do solar. They never help the “ratepayer”. They only help their “clients” leaving everyone else to pay the cost for others installing solar. That is fine in a world where all have a choice, but this bill solves that problem by making participation equitable! Imagine that!

    The word “monopoly” has been used freely! Why? Are these same people asking for total electric deregulation? If so, just say it! But to establish an entity to carry out a plan that the Commission could never trust GA Power to administer properly based on “optimization” is the right move. All projects come from competitive bid and only projects that benefit ratepayers go forward. That is a wise choice and it doesn’t stop anyone from deploying solar individually! That is not a monopoly! Only GA Power is a monopoly. Need I remind everyone that I and all others were told for years that it was “too cloudy” or “too hazy” or “too humid” in GA for solar by GA Power? How much damage did that do to our economy? Where was Rehm when that bs was being said? Exactly….Rehm should simple change the spelling of his name to GA Power or EMC, in my opinion.

    Wake up GA! Thank you Kidd, Buzz, Debbie and all signers. I don’t like politics, but this legislation is worth me getting out and fighting for! Debbie, let us know how we can help and let’s get more people in office that can see past GA Power and their $ that they wave in front of elected officials that was extracted from us, month after month, more and more, year after year!!!

    WAKE UP GA!!

    • jpthom says:

      Wake up WakeUpGA = ” The solar companies seem to only worry about their own pockets and projects for properties that can do solar. They never help the “ratepayer”. They only help their “clients” leaving everyone else to pay the cost for others installing solar.” This statement is an uninformed opinion with little understanding of what this is all about.

      Electricity is a shared resource, so if you can reduce the stress on the power grid, especially here in Georgia during the heat of the day and especially if you’re a company who consumes massive amounts of electricity, how does this not help the ratepayer also? Our transmission lines are connected to other states and countries. So, if I buy a car that gets 30+ MPG, I don’t use less gas and help those who must use high volumes (trucks and buses) of gas? So, who controls the rate? That’s the essential question in this discussion and other states and other countries are making the changes to end the monopolies and improve their outcomes.

  9. WakeUpGA says:

    I agree Buzz. Didn’t mean to imply Eaton is a bad guy. But I do think an honest debate is needed that excludes people who are paid to “spin”. Apologies to Eaton. Eaton will probably get behind this bill because it is a competitive bid for all projects and leads to lower electric rates – that’s what we elected him for, right?

    • sockpuppet says:

      There is no single Tea Party. They were generally unified about beating Obama and stopping his agenda from being enacted and were co-opted to an extent by Dick Armey and some other national GOP figures, but it is still a grassroots movement, including even several different competing/feuding Tea Party organizations in the same area in some places.

      Debbie Dooley’s faction does analyze policy and try to figure out what is best for the state. You can disagree with the conclusions that they make (case in point: their opposition to the T-SPLOST based in no small part on their belief that an alternative could be arrived at quickly and that they could play a role in shaping said alternative when in truth neither had any chance of happening) but you can’t say that they aren’t trying. So Dooley and company looked at the bill and decided that it was good policy, especially when compared to the normal energy policy in this state, which is giving Georgia Power everything they want and then some. Good for them.

      I will point out though that the folks who do support renewable energy usually don’t do so for economic reasons, but rather out of a combination of environmentalism and a disdain for oil companies. In other words, they support renewable energy precisely because it is bad economic policy! I am sorry, but promoting something that in many cases is not cost effective, is unstable and unproven technology, will require heavy subsidies via tax credits and grants, will drive up the cost of power to consumers and businesses plus require expensive changes to the grid and other delivery systems all to stick it to those “evil greedy oil companies” is pursuing bad economic policy on purpose for ideological reasons. Don’t expect the Tea Party or most Americans for that matter to get behind that. But a proposal that is workable, can be practically implemented and provide jobs? No one would oppose that unless they are paid shills for the oil companies like Grover Norquist. Bottom line: if you want the Tea Party to support more renewable energy projects, come up with more GOOD renewable energy proposals like this one.

      • xdog says:

        “it is still a grassroots movement”

        I don’t believe a group can be backed by billionaires and still wave the grassroots flag. TPers are simply a particularly angry and scared wing of the gop.

        • sockpuppet says:

          @xdog:

          What about George Soros, Bill Gates, the Ford Foundation, the Hollywood left and the various causes and groups that they support? I don’t know why it is OK for liberal groups to carry off buckets of cash from liberal wealthy people and foundations but conservatives can’t do the same. Please folks, take a look in the mirror before making statements like that.

          Another thing: considering the free, uncritical publicity that liberal groups get from the “mainstream” media, public schools and universities, they can’t be considered grassroots either.

          • xdog says:

            I’ll leave your assumptions about “mainstream” media alone and merely make 3 quick points.

            1 — When Soros gives political money to donks, they take it gladly but I don’t remember them bragging about their grassroots ethic. I don’t mind pols getting bankrolled from the likes of the Kochs, Adelson, and Malone, but proclaiming their independence all the way to the bank is unseemly.

            2 — Gates and Ford money is foundation money. They fund medical research, schools, symphonies, museums and the like. Those are efforts that benefit both libs and cons.

            3 — The Hollywood left? Why do you find it odd that creative people prefer the politics of a party that doesn’t want to interfere in their lives? And if right-wingers weren’t losing so badly in the marketplace of ideas, we’d hear more about the Hollywood right. Right?

            • sockpuppet says:

              “Why do you find it odd that creative people prefer the politics of a party that doesn’t want to interfere in their lives?”

              The claim that “the Democrats don’t want to interfere in their lives” is only true when the issue is abortion, and even then it is only sorta true because abortion does interfere in the life of the unborn child (which despite what you choose to believe is the only reason why the anti-abortion crowd opposes it). Otherwise, Democrats support plenty of interference in the economic and social lives of people. They just don’t refer to it as such because they simply label the people who oppose their economic and social regulations as “greedy”, “selfish”, “bigoted” and “close-minded” and as a result make the claim that their objections to the interference in their lives that Democratic policies result in are illegitimate.

              On to your other points: the Gates and Ford money does not merely fund research, schools, symphonies, museums etc. The major foundations also give heavily to left-liberal and progressive political and social causes and organizations which most certainly do not benefit conservatives. If you want to play that game, the Koch Brothers and the Walton family (Wal-Mart) and the Cathys (Chik-Fil-A) make the same sort of donations to research, schools, the arts etc. but it is only their contributions to conservative organizations and causes that you hear about.

              And liberal organizations do brag about their grassroots and common appeal. “It is for the people!” “It is for the children!” “It is for the workers!” “It is for women!” “It is for minorities!” The leftist organizations claim that theirs is the broad-based agenda that “benefits everyone” while the conservative organizations are “for the rich”, “for the elites”, “for privileged heterosexual Christian white males” etc. And if you deny that the mainstream media doesn’t reflect that worldview, you are just fooling yourself. Whenever they want to do a story on an issue, it reflects the opinion of a liberal group like NOW, NAACP, Children’s Defense Fund, the Human Rights Campaign etc. while conservative organizations are only occasionally referenced either for the pretense of “equal time” (usually providing a couple of objections to an article or column covering the liberal issue) or are made the subject of hit pieces talking about how regressive, bigoted and scary they are.

              Since you brought up the Tea Party, the media made a point of exposing how ill-informed or conflicted on the issues the rank-and-file Tea Party members were. Well news flash: if you were to stick a camera in the face of the same random attendees of a feminist, environmentalist or civil rights rally, you will find just as many people who aren’t exactly experts on policy and just as many people with strange, radical or dangerous ideas. The media was excellent at identifying the racists at Tea Party rallies, but they can’t seem to find airtime for the many people who rail against whites, Jews, Asians etc. at those Al Sharpton and Cynthia McKinney events. You can attend a rally or public forum held by one of those leaders or groups and you will find out how so many of them are thoroughly misinformed about the role of government and how our economy works, and yes the result of this is indeed how and why we get such elected officials as those on the Clayton and DeKalb school board and the D.C. and Detroit city councils and mayor’s offices. It would be VERY EASY to make the activist left look as bad as the media made the Tea Party look, but only Fox News reports on the incendiary, extreme (and often false) rhetoric and loony conspiracy theories that get aired at liberal events all the time. And when the alternative conservative media attempts to expose it, the response is “well they’re just trying to make us look bad because they’re bigots who oppose our agenda.”

              Sorry xdog, but you’re 0-3. And I am not even a conservative. You can read my comments to Andre on George Chidi’s post and see that I am not.

              • Harry says:

                Walmart has lately switched sides and is now supporting Democrats. They’re worried about their image in elite circles including vindictive liberals.

              • xdog says:

                sockpuppet — You mentioned the TP and their ‘grassroots’ nature. I responded. You dance around, ignore what I wrote, redefine terms on the fly, and declare victory, acting aggrieved all the while. You may not be a conservative but that process is reminiscent of many on the right.

                I said I wouldn’t talk about what you call ‘mainstream media’ but you’ve lured me on. First, Sharpton’s racist remarks have gained widespread reportage over the years. How else did you learn about them? Second, what Cynthia McKinney rallies? Third, why no counter from you to my remarks about the Hollywood right and the marketplace of ideas? Those Galt movies certainly didn’t light up the box-office. Neither did the Palin mythologies. Fourth and finally, mainstream media may be mainstream, and they certainly don’t get everything right, but at least they try; their aim is to report fact. That’s a goal noticeably absent from Breitbart, Drudge, the Examiner, and other ideologically driven so-called news outlets so comforting to those on the right. Come to think of it, you seem a little driven yourself.

  10. ditchdigger says:

    Well, I really like the fact that this bill seems to create the most important question of all and that is how will the PSC act in the best interest of the customers. The bill says that the solar provider get projects via competitive bids and that the solar be deployed to be the the customers’ long term interests. Wow! I bet GA Power will fight it, but it also says that GA Power will be compensated for grid access and electric distribution and I think grid maintenance. This is exact what the California utilities are fighting for and it is in this bill. It also say that projects can’t go forward unless it leads to rate reductions and allows people without optimal property to have solar by participating in solar somewhere else and this is another big problem that states with RPSs are having and that solves the problem of leaving people without property paying higher prices because others did go solar.

    All in all I think the bill has real merit and I fear GA Power is too strong and wealthy to be defeated, but I’m proud of the signers. Also, solar farms can’t blow up like Bowen did yesterday.

    Reading all these posts were fun though…gotta love it when someone uses Solyndra as a goto for anything solar – that’s a sure sign of intellectual bankruptcy.

  11. solartruthteller says:

    America is a wonderful place because of it’s Democracy, freedom of the press, and political free speech.
    Every American, in theory has the right to have his or her say on any topic and in public.
    In theory, every person’s opinion may be heard, and in fact, every person has an opinion.
    So what you see above, is mostly a bunch of opinions.
    Only some of these opinions match the truth, others don’t.
    Some opinion support the effort toward building a better America, others support the effort at protecting the financial interests of the energy sector at the cost of a better America.
    So let’s be honest here folks.
    If you are going to talk about solar in GA, and not prove to the rest of America that Georgian’s are clueless redneck bumpkins with luddite tendencies, you have to get at least some of the facts straight, all of which any child can help you verify by using Google on a home computer or smart phone.
    1. Solar manufacturing businesses have no relation to the equipment they make. The bankruptcy of a solar equipment manufacturing company means their production facility wasn’t profitable because of bad business decisions. It does not mean the equipment they manufactured did not work, as intended for the life of the 25-30 year warranty. The fact some solar manufacturing company’s fail means our free-market works, and that intelligent people believed it was a real business. Solar is in fact a thriving industry. GM failed, but not because their cars didn’t work.
    2. Solar is not new technology. It was first used in Americus, Georgia, by Bell Labs to replace battery backups on phone poles. Look it up. Solar is in orbit out in space right now powering your cable t.v. and phone signals. Solar is on planet Mars for God’s sake, operating in harsher conditions than anything on earth. So there isn’t any technology risk with most forms of solar PV. Solar works in Georgia just fine.
    3. Thirteen COUNTRIES get MORE THAN 30 PERCENT of their electricity from renewable energy, much of that from solar. America does not, because it simply chooses not to. There is no reason why we can’t. The technology works in other nations, works on massive scale in other nations. It’s a lie to say it’s a danger to the power grid, unreliable, etc. It’s a lie. German engineers are NOT stupid. They wouldn’t put their nation’s economy at risk by using solar. The German economy is stronger than most of the other nations.
    4. Everything on earth pollutes. Humans pollute with their own waste. Oil pollutes. Natural gas pollutes and coal pollutes. Making concrete and steel pollutes. Building a coal, or nuclear power plant pollutes. Yet making solar panels, which are mostly glass, silicon (also glass) and aluminum frames that surround them pollutes no more, and frankly, a lot less, than any coal, natural gas, or nuclear power plant, coal mine, oil or natural gas field, and I won’t even detail gas “fracking” causing water pollution or trigger the occasional earth-quake. It happens.
    5. Stanford engineers released a report last week that shows the amount of solar energy produced by all the solar panels on earth today now does, or will very soon, exceed the energy it took to make them. And, unlike, oil, coal, natural gas or nuclear power, solar panels make energy for 30 years, without using any water, or causing any air pollution. Whereas, oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear power each constantly use oil, natural gas and water in their extraction, containment, processing and shipping, and then pollute both the air and water when they are burned, and keep polluting the air and water with the waste by-products from their combustion or fission. Your cheap coal or natural gas constantly USES energy, just to extract it. There’s a net energy loss with coal, natural gas and nuclear. Making useable uranium or other nuclear fuel is very energy intensive, and taxpayer pay for that, even if not on your power bill.
    6. Fossil fuel based air and water pollution has been proven to reduce the IQ of your children. Yes. YOUR children. It makes fish toxic to eat. It harms human fetuses, which, by the way, conservatives are supposed to care about. Mercury and particulate pollution also kills people, makes allergies and asthma worse and reduces U.S. worker productivity and causes workers to take more sick-days than they otherwise would need to. So saying that coal or natural gas is “cheaper” is just plain ignorant. It isn’t, never was, and never will be. Count these costs, and they’d jail and fine anyone trying to sell the stuff.
    7. Being energy independent with fossil fuels doesn’t make fuel cheaper. Canada is already energy independent. Their gasoline costs the same as ours. Fossil fuels are a global commodity, prices are set by markets, not national origin or use. Solar has NO fuel cost.
    8. Coal, natural gas and nuclear power plants are nothing more than billion dollar tea-kettles. All they ever do is boil water to make steam to spin a turbine that turns a generator that makes electricity. Period. That’s water you need for drinking, growing crops and making rain. You local power plant takes Georgia water, converts a lot of it to vapor, and puts it in the air where it comes down as rain in another state. This doesn’t help Georgia with it’s drought or water issues near term or long term.
    9.
    Power plants explode and cause damage. Plant Bowen just blew up. Our coal, natural gas and nuclear powerplants are not reliable. Want to see how many are offline right now, go here http://www.roadtechs.com/shutdown/shutdown.php?region=n

    10. Every U.S. energy source has, and continues to receive massive public subsidy.
    11. Every U.S. energy industry has had thousands of bankruptcies and financial failures. Solar hasn’t even been around long enough to compare to those others in the other energy sectors.
    12. The solar industry operates in the free-market. Utilities operate in a MONOPOLY.
    13. Solar makes energy right away. It’s “fuel cost” is all up front, in the sense that once you buy the machinery, it’s good for making electrical power for 30 years. Neither coal, natural gas nor nuclear does that. So, while fossil fuel power may appear cheaper than solar when you ignore all the pollution damage and healthcare costs coal and gas causes, you can’t compare prices, because with solar, all your power is pre-paid. That’s why we need laws in GA that help people finance solar just like you can finance your car. It’s called 3-rd party PPA financing. SB 51 would have done that if the legislature wasn’t so corrupted by the utilities.
    14. Solar energy can be stored. Yes, it costs more to do that. But how many hundreds of billions have we invested in piles of coal or natural gas tanks? We just need to decide we also want to store solar. It’s just a decision. The dollar difference isn’t that substantial if you are HONEST about your calculations and don’t selectively ignore the ugly and costly reality of coal, natural gas, and nuclear power.
    15. The solar industry is real. It is creating more and more jobs every day.
    16. The return on investment for solar is acceptable. America currently has billions of dollars of solar operating, all financed by the largest most sophisticated financial companies on earth, none of whom are making bad deals. The return gets better every year, especially as costs for solar go down, and costs for natural gas and coal and nuclear go up. No intelligent natural gas investor expects natural gas to stay at its current lows over the next 30 years. Returns on solar are good now, and will be improving over time, not diminishing.
    17. The repair costs for solar are immaterial. Solar panel are modular, about 2 feet by 4 feet, about 2 inches thick, any man can hold one with one hand. They assemble with tools you can buy at home depot. They use small wires to connect them Repair of a solar facility is a LOT less expensive and less difficult than on a coal, natural gas, or nuclear plant. For God’s sake people, they can sit on your roof !
    18. Costly solar disposal costs? Strip off the aluminum or steel frame, and recycle those like your Coke can or tin cans in your kitchen pantry. The clear glass cover? Recycle that along with your replacement windows or storm doors. The wires? Copper or Aluminum. Recycle them. The solar cells, no different than all those computer PC boards and cell phones we have.
    19. While solar doesn’t work at night unless you use storage, solar DOES work on cloudy days and even when it snows. Germany can prove that to you. Just go in the winter and watch their solar power meters spin while it’s snows. Solar is amazing. If you can see without using a flashlight, solar panels are making electricity. If you grass is green or trees are green, your solar panel has enough sun to make electricity. If you are in a drought and all the grass and trees are dead, they you are REALLY making a lot of electricity.
    20. Dust, pollen, fall leaves never stay on a solar panel for long enough to matter. Rain and wind take care of most of the maintenance. Only a moron would pay thousands for a solar system and then not clean it if needed with a garden hose and some windex and a shower squeegee. Morons Don’t own solar systems……..
    21. Solar’s variability does not equate to a reliability issue. Every utility source is variable. The grid is DESIGNED to handle it. There is never a day when GA power knows how many women will turn on a hair-dryer at 7:13 AM. Never. NREL and the utilities themselves all agree that not until you get 15% of your total electricity from solar do you need to even ask the question about reliability. And it’s not until you get to 50% of your load that you really have a problem. Doubt it? Fly to Hawaii, talk to the utility there, HECO. They know, they lived it. Lots of solar works fine, and the grid doesn’t fail.
    22. Georgia doesn’t need to “study” solar to be sure it works. It works. Ask Duke Energy in North Carolina. Get on a plane, or pick up your phone, call any of the California or New Jersey or Texas utilities that have lots of solar on their grid. They have already figured it out. Just ask. You don’t have to invent anything new, or learn from your own mistakes. Enough is already known to allow Georgia utility electrical engineers to make it work without screwing it up. It’s NOT rocket science. In many states, you just go to Home Depot or Lowes and have solar put on your roof. It

    So, if you raise ANY objection to solar, I can rebut it.

    Note however, I have not said here, nor will I ever say that solar is a 100% solution.
    But, the combination of using wind, geothermal, landfill gas, fuel cells and combined heat and power systems can materially reduce the costly, polluting, water-consuming coal, natural gas and nuclear facilities we default to out of sheer ignorance, laziness and short-term economic analysis.

    Thirty years ago, Atlanta had plenty of water, wasn’t in an non-attainment zone, didn’t have smog, didn’t have asthma ozone alerts. We do now. And it’s not because our population grew. It’s because our population grew AND chose to use non-renewable energy sources.

    So, if you are going to debate solar energy here, and you are going to debate it as an honest American and not a corrupted party ideologue or person attempting to influence energy company stock prices, then get your facts straight. Or at least be honest and don’t talk about what you don’t know.

    Otherwise, just state up front that all you are doing is protecting your retirement account investment in Southern Company and then spew your propaganda so we can delete it before reading it.

    • sockpuppet says:

      “It harms human fetuses, which, by the way, conservatives are supposed to care about.”

      Why don’t liberals care more about fetuses? Just curious. Caring about fetuses should be a nonpartisan, non-ideological, apolitical position. When did that change and why? I agree with much of what you said, don’t get me wrong. It is just that your including that little bit of information had the effect of fingernails being raked across chalkboard in a quiet room. You see, stuff like that – insulting and offending folks on purpose – is exactly why certain people feel that Grover Norquist, the Heritage Foundation and everyone else on the oil company advertising payroll is on their side. Seriously, how is mocking people in this manner different from Lynn Westmoreland calling Obama “uppity”?

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