Sunday, April 8, 2012

Solar Project Energizes Refuge Earth Day Celebration

As Refuge staff and volunteers gear up for this year’s Earth Day and 75th Anniversary Celebration at Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, anticipation is in the air. The Refuge has been putting together family-friendly activities to highlight Earth Day for years, but this time around, things will be a little different … and a little more exciting with the theme—“Mobilize the Earth, Connecting the Past to the Future”

The Okefenokee Wildlife League (OWL) is sponsoring the Solar Car Sprint, a science-based competition, where homeschoolers and students from Bethune Middle School, exhibit and race model cars powered entirely by solar energy. According to OWL board member and Sprint Coordinator Sally Webb, “This competition is an amazing opportunity for Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge to reach students in our own backyard. It’s allowed us to foster an environment where these students can safely experiment with alternative energy sources and learn firsthand the benefits of solar energy and its potential to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.”

A project of this magnitude requires community involvement on many different levels. Waste Management Chesser Island Road Landfill has been a generous supporter of the project. The company’s interest in this community project involving local students and alternative energy stems from their own endeavors to harness the renewable energy produced by landfill-gas. According to Amy Boyson, Community Affairs Manager at Waste Management, “The Solar Car Sprint aligns with our company’s environmental initiatives. We are proud to be a partner with Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and the Okefenokee Wildlife League to help educate the youth in Charlton County about solar energy.”

In addition to the Solar Car Sprint, the refuge will host a number of other activities for youth and their families such as face painting , live animal shows, outdoor theater, and an a chance to complete a Recreational Opportunities Passport.

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge will host the celebration on Saturday, April 21, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. inside the East Entrance, located 7 miles southwest of Folkston, GA off the Okefenokee Parkway South (GA 121/23). For those without Annual, Senior, or Access Passes, a fee of $5.00 per vehicle will be charged to enter the refuge for this event. For additional information, call (912) 496-7836 or visit The Earth Day Celebration is subject to cancellation in the event of inclement weather.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to providing access to our events for all participants. Persons needing reasonable accommodations in order to attend and participate in our events should contact Art Webster at (912) 496-7366 ext. 233 or In order to allow sufficient time to process requests, please contact us for assistance by close of business at least five business days in advance of the event.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Atlanta Gas Light Files Plan to Construct CNG Vehicle Fueling Stations

/PRNewswire/ -- With gasoline and diesel pump prices in Georgia hovering in the $4.00 range, Atlanta Gas Light (AGL) today (May 12) filed a plan with the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) to build a network of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueling stations over the next five years in the metropolitan Atlanta region and along major transportation corridors in the state. The plan also includes low-cost equipment leasing options for home fueling stations. CNG retail prices are over a third less than that of petroleum - $2.19 per gallon of gas equivalent – as currently posted at Georgia retailers.

"Demand for CNG is growing in the United States, and Atlanta Gas Light is committed to attracting interest in this important new investment opportunity to Georgia," said Ian Skelton, director of Atlanta Gas Light's natural gas vehicle program. "Natural gas is abundant and clean, and the U.S. is estimated to have a one hundred year supply that is readily deliverable to Georgia. Fleet owners and vehicle manufacturers are beginning to recognize the significant price advantage CNG holds over petroleum at the pump and, as a result, demand for CNG should increase. Making CNG stations more prevalent and accessible makes sense for Georgia, for businesses and for consumers."

Under the plan to be considered by the PSC later this summer, AGL proposes to invest nearly $12 million dollars to stimulate private investment in the construction of approximately 10 to 15 fueling stations, depending on the size of the station and the level of private investment. The stations would be owned and operated by private retailers who must invest approximately 50 percent of the cost of the CNG station. Retailers would purchase natural gas from certificated marketers and resell it as CNG to the public. The initial station locations will be largely determined based on proximity to commercial fleet customers who contract for service.

The capital used to seed the market would be expended from the Universal Service Fund, which is funded from rates paid by industrial customers and proceeds shared by energy asset management firms. AGL annually requests funds from the USF for line extensions to serve new customers and new regions of the state. The recessed economy has stalled line extensions that normally would come with growth, leaving a temporary surplus in the fund that can be used to foster CNG growth.

Atlanta Gas Light will not sell CNG to the public nor participate in the commercial operation of the stations as part of this program. AGL will own and maintain the CNG equipment connected to its traditional natural gas distribution system, enabling USF dollars to be used to construct the CNG facilities. Atlanta Gas Light will collect transportation delivery charges and actual costs associated with operations and maintenance from retailers. Revenue collected from a separate equipment utilization fee will be placed in a reserve account to fund a portion of the cost of leasing home refueling stations, erecting additional CNG facilities, and making repairs and replacing the CNG equipment.

In order to qualify for funding, applicants must demonstrate financial resources sufficient to secure the real estate for the station, develop the site consistent with local zoning, fund at least 50 percent of the total CNG station costs, and produce contracts with fleet or end use customers that utilize no less than 15,000 gas equivalent gallons per year for five years. The 50 percent match requirement is reduced to 20 percent after the first year if there are sufficient funds remaining.

The plan is the product of months of market studies and public hearings followed by legislative action. After filing a conceptual plan last September at the urging of PSC Commissioner Doug Everett, two public hearings were held in November 2010 and January 2011 to refine the plan. In March, the Georgia General Assembly gave express authorization for USF funds to be utilized for natural gas fueling infrastructure for motor vehicles.

Construction and maintenance of CNG facilities is not new to Atlanta Gas Light. The company installed its first CNG pumps at a public station in downtown Atlanta in the early 1990's. In 1996, AGL began its service to MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) when the transportation agency converted its bus fleet to CNG in advance of Atlanta hosting the Summer Olympics. Currently, the company owns equipment located at 10 CNG stations operated by private fleets and located on customer-owned premises, including municipal transit agencies, and has installed numerous others. The company also provides maintenance services to about 40 additional fleet customers who own their own CNG stations.


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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Georgia Solar Tax Credits Spur Economic Growth

/PRNewswire/ -- With the signature of Governor Nathan Deal, Georgia's solar energy tax credit is increasing to $5 million annually in 2012, 2013 and 2014 from the current $2.5 million yearly limit. The new law, which the General Assembly approved last month, helps ensure that the vibrant solar energy industry in Georgia continues to thrive, creating jobs and new investment opportunities statewide.

Businesses are eligible to receive up to $500,000 in tax credits to offset the cost of installing solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity generating systems, and homeowners are eligible to receive up to $10,500 in tax credits for residential solar energy systems. The tax credits must be taken over four years. If the $5 million ceiling is reached in any year, eligible taxpayers on a waiting list will have priority over taxpayers that apply for the credits in subsequent years. The Georgia Department of Revenue will determine other administrative details about the tax credits.

Georgia Solar Energy Association (GSEA) Board Member and Advocacy & Education Committee Chairman Greg Chafee, head of the Energy Practice at Morris Manning & Martin, said Governor Deal's leadership made a crucial difference in creating the new solar investment opportunity.

"Thanks to support from Governor Deal, Senate Floor Leader Ronnie Chance (R-Peachtree City), and Representative David Knight, (R-Griffin) Chairman of the Special Committee on Small Business Development and Job Creation, a robust solar energy industry in Georgia will generate employment, improve and diversify our energy infrastructure, and bring the latest in technological innovation to the state," Chafee said.

Anthony Coker, Senior Director for Suniva, Inc., and Vice-Chairman of GSEA, said the increased solar tax credits will help Georgia compete in the economic development market with a meaningful ripple effect on the state's economy.

GSEA board member Sylvia Minton, senior vice president for Mage Solar, a German solar manufacturer with a production facility in Dublin, Ga., Board Member James Marlow, CEO of Radiance Solar, and GSEA State Program Director Joy Kramer attended the signing ceremony at the Georgia State Capitol.

In 2010, clean energy tax credits totaling almost $2 million were awarded to 47 solar PV projects and 90 solar water heating installations in Georgia. The tax credits helped to develop major new solar energy projects including:

* Choate Construction Company Headquarters Building, Atlanta, 74 KW capacity, designed and built by Empower Energy Technology, Atlanta, $575,000 pre-incentive value.
* White Oak Pastures, Bluffton, Ga., beef processing facility, 50,000-watt capacity, $326,000 pre-incentive value, designed and built by Hannah Solar, Atlanta.
* Persimmon Creek Vineyards, sustainable winery in Clayton, GA, solar array designed and built by Radiance Solar, Atlanta.

GSEA Chairman Doug Beebe said he is grateful that Governor Deal and legislative leaders recognize the growing contribution the solar industry is making to Georgia's economy.

"The increased availability of tax credits provides encouragement and support for our hard-working, solar manufacturers, installers, suppliers and consultants to help ensure that they continue to grow and flourish," Beebe said while also noting the upcoming June 24th Solar Summit at Georgia Tech Research Institute Conference Center.


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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

As Gas Prices Rise, Traffic Accidents Decrease

Editor Note:  What an interesting consequence.......

Newswise — As gasoline prices reach $4 a gallon throughout the nation, pain at the pump seems to have at least one silver lining for drivers.

A study by Mississippi State's Social Science Research Center indicates that rising gas prices create an accompanying decline in all traffic accidents, including drunk-driving crashes.

Researcher Guangqing Chi, an assistant professor of sociology at the university, recently published his findings in the Journal of Safety Research and Accident Analysis and Prevention.

An SSRC demographer, Chi examined a range of factors related to driving-related accidents in the state, including age, gender and race. The study analyzed total traffic crashes between April 2004 and December 2008, comparing gas prices to traffic safety statistics.

"The results suggest that prices have both short-term and intermediate-term effects on reducing traffic crashes," he reports in the journal article.

Among other points, the research also shows gas prices having a short-term impact on crashes involving younger drivers and intermediate-term impact related to older drivers and men.

Chi said short-term impact refers to immediate effects, for example how a current month's average gasoline prices affect the same month's traffic crashes. Intermediate-term impact refers to effects over a one-year subsequent time period.

While previous research linked traffic-related fatalities to gas price fluctuations, limited research has shown the effects of prices on all traffic accidents. No research previously examined the link between drunk-driving crashes and gas prices, Chi observed.

His research also found significant connections between gas prices and a reduced frequency of alcohol-related crashes.

Other researchers contributing to the study include SSRC director Arthur Cosby; David Levinson, an associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Minnesota; and Mohammed Quddus, a senior lecturer in transportation studies at the University of Loughborough, United Kingdom.


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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Georgia Power to Develop Water Research Center

/PRNewswire/ -- Georgia Power President and CEO Paul Bowers today announced the company will host an innovative research facility to develop and test water conservation technologies at Georgia Power's Plant Bowen, near Cartersville, Ga.

The Water Research Center (WRC) will provide a venue for developing and testing technologies to improve water efficiency by addressing withdrawal, consumption and recycling throughout the power generation process.

Georgia Power is collaborating with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to add broader industry perspective and guidance to the project. Expected to be fully operational by August 2012, the WRC will include seven separate research focus areas: moisture recovery, cooling tower and advanced cooling systems, zero liquid discharge options, low volume wastewater treatment, solid waste landfill water management, carbon technology water issues, and water modeling, monitoring and best management practices.

"We are pleased to work with EPRI and technology suppliers in this first-of-a-kind project," said Bowers. "Water research and conservation is vital for the continued prosperity of our state, and we will contribute to that effort."

Dr. Michael Howard, president and CEO of EPRI, said: "We are excited about the water treatment and conservation research projects envisioned for the WRC. The center can be the catalyst to advance new technology options that address the industry's current and future water challenges."

The center is an extension of a pilot project that began in May 2010 at Plant Bowen to identify opportunities to address water withdrawal, consumption and recycling. As a result of the pilot project, technology has been implemented to reduce water withdrawals for the plant's scrubber process, an environmental control that reduces sulfur dioxide emissions.

Results from research conducted at the WRC will be shared with Georgia Power and other EPRI members. Appropriate technologies can be implemented by utilities worldwide to address water issues.

The center, which will be operated by the Southern Research Institute, may also serve to educate students and community leaders about the importance of water conservation.

Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the nation's largest generators of electricity. The company is an investor-owned, tax-paying utility with rates below the national average. Georgia Power serves 2.3 million customers in all but four of Georgia's 159 counties.

The Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI) conducts research and development relating to the generation, delivery and use of electricity for the benefit of the public. An independent, nonprofit organization, EPRI brings together its scientists and engineers as well as experts from academia and industry to help address challenges in electricity, including reliability, efficiency, health, safety and the environment. EPRI also provides technology, policy and economic analyses to drive long-range research and development planning, and supports research in emerging technologies. EPRI's members represent more than 90 percent of the electricity generated and delivered in the United States, and international participation extends to 40 countries. EPRI's principal offices and laboratories are located in Palo Alto, Calif.; Charlotte, N.C.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Lenox, Mass.


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Friday, April 15, 2011

Southern Company CEO Tells Congress That Proposed Standard Will Impact Economy and Electric Reliability and Affordability

/PRNewswire/ -- Thomas A Fanning, chairman, president and CEO of Southern Company, today told members of Congress that proposed regulations aimed at emissions from power plants could reduce reliability, raise electricity prices, slow economic development and eliminate American jobs.

"My message today is that the reliability and affordability that Americans deserve could be at risk," Fanning said in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power in Washington.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed regulation on further reducing air emissions from coal-fired power plants. The new regulation, known as Utility MACT (maximum achievable control technology), covers 125 different types of emissions. The EPA has allowed 60 days for comment.

"This is nearly a thousand-page rule with nearly a thousand more pages of technical supporting documents," Fanning said. "Sixty days is plainly inadequate for the industry to analyze this rule and its effects and offer meaningful comments."

Of greater concern, said Fanning, is the three years mandated for compliance.

"In just three years, utilities would have to develop compliance strategies for each plant, engineer solutions on a unit-by-unit basis, obtain required environmental permits, gain state public utility commission regulatory approval, actually procure and install the required technology, test the technology and implement any operational changes, and then demonstrate full compliance," Fanning said.

A study conducted for the Edison Electric Institute by ICF, Fanning testified, concluded that for the U.S. by 2015 over 80,000 megawatts of scrubbers and over 160,000 megawatts of fabric filter baghouses would have to be constructed and almost 80,000 megawatts of current coal capacity would have to be replaced.

"As the CEO of a company that has installed more pollution controls than any other utility," Fanning said, "I tell you that this cannot be done in three years."

Fanning also stressed that the Utility MACT proposal could cost the industry as much as $300 billion over the next five years.


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Friday, April 8, 2011

Oglethorpe Power Completes Purchase of Combined Cycle Units

/PRNewswire/ -- Oglethorpe Power Corporation today completed the purchase of two natural gas-fired, combined cycle generating units in Murray County, Ga. with the acquisition of KGen Murray I and II, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of KGen Power Corporation. The purchase price was approximately $529 million, including working capital and other closing adjustments.

The two Murray units represent an aggregate summer planning reserve generating capacity of about 1,220 megawatts (MW). This brings Oglethorpe Power's total owned generating capacity to approximately 7,048 MW.

The Murray acquisition also includes an existing power purchase and sale agreement with Georgia Power Company for the entire output of Murray I through May 31, 2012. Initially, both units are planned to be operated independently of the other generating facilities owned and operated by Oglethorpe Power but will be integrated into the system as needed.

Oglethorpe Power first disclosed that it was negotiating to purchase some then-unnamed natural gas facilities in October 2010 and followed in January 2011 with an announcement that it had signed a purchase and sale agreement for the Murray units, subject to applicable regulatory approvals and approval by KGen stockholders.

"We couldn't be more pleased with today's acquisition," said Elizabeth B. Higgins, executive vice president and chief financial officer. "This purchase gives Oglethorpe Power and our Member Systems a significant block of generating capacity at a very reasonable cost without the added time and additional expense of constructing a new facility."

In purchasing the Murray units, Oglethorpe Power has now officially canceled construction of a planned 605-megawatt, combined cycle generating plant that was in the siting stage.

Ms. Higgins said Oglethorpe Power expects long-term financing for the Murray units to come primarily from loans guaranteed by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS). Taxable bonds would make up the difference for any amount not funded through the RUS loan program.

Oglethorpe Power Corporation (OPC) is the nation's largest power supply cooperative with more than $7 billion in assets serving 39 Electric Membership Corporations which, collectively, provide electricity to 4.1 million Georgians.

A proponent of conscientious energy development and use, OPC balances reliable and affordable energy with environmental responsibility and has an outstanding record of regulatory compliance. Its diverse energy portfolio includes natural gas, hydroelectric, coal and nuclear generating plants with a combined capacity of approximately 7,048 MW, as well as purchased power.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Georgia Power Announces Plans to Decertify Two Coal Generating Units

/PRNewswire/ -- Georgia Power expects to request approval from the Georgia Public Service Commission to decertify two coal-generating units totaling 569 megawatts, the company announced Wednesday.

The request to decertify units 1 and 2 at Plant Branch in Putnam Co. will be included in Georgia Power's updated Integrated Resource Plan filing with the commission in late summer. The company expects to ask for decertification of the units as of the effective dates of the Georgia Multipollutant Rule, which are currently anticipated to be Dec. 31, 2013 for unit 1 and Oct. 1, 2013 for unit 2.

The decision to decertify the units is based on a need to install environmental controls to meet a variety of existing and expected environmental regulations.

"After an extensive analysis of the cost to comply with environmental regulations, we have determined the continued operation of these units would be uneconomical for our customers," said Georgia Power President and CEO Paul Bowers. "This decision is in keeping with our focus to provide affordable and reliable electricity for our customers."

Georgia Power will continue to evaluate existing and expected federal and state environmental rules involving air emissions, water treatment, and coal ash and gypsum to determine the economics of installing additional environmental controls on generating units at other Georgia Power plants, including Plant Branch units 3 and 4.

Georgia Power currently operates 9,686 megawatts of coal-fueled generation at 10 plants across the state.

The commission is expected to vote on the decertification request in spring 2012.

Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), one of the nation's largest generators of electricity. The company is an investor-owned, tax-paying utility with rates below the national average. Georgia Power serves 2.3 million customers in all but four of Georgia's 159 counties.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed Launches “Em-Powered to Change” Energy Conservation Initiative

Employees to “Cut Back, Give Back” During a Five-Year Conservation Project

Today, Mayor Kasim Reed kicked off “Em-Powered to Change,” a pilot sustainability program with the City’s Department of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs (DPRCA) at the Atlanta Civic Center.

“Launching programs such as the ‘Em-Powered to Change’ initiative is a critical component of making Atlanta a more sustainable City,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “The City of Atlanta will continue to do its part to be a national leader in the area of sustainability.”

Last October, Mayor Reed set an aggressive goal of making Atlanta a top 10 city for sustainability. The “Em-Powered to Change” campaign will guide city employees by converting existing facility procedures into energy and money saving policies. The Mayor’s goal is to reduce energy use in City facilities by 20 percent over the next five years. Mayor Reed was on-site to kick-off the “Em-Powered to Change Energy Expo” and introduced the new conservation policies to hundreds of employees and the 38 buildings that make up the DPRCA.

During the Energy Expo, facility managers and operators from the DPRCA came together to learn steps and policies that can be implemented to reduce energy, material use and waste. These tools will not only be useful in the workplace but can also be replicated in employees’ personal lives. Additionally, the Energy Expo included educational stations that will demonstrate sustainable practices that can be executed in public and private facilities.

For more information about Atlanta’s efforts to create a more sustainable city, visit

About City of Atlanta, Division of Sustainability

Launched in 2008, the City of Atlanta’s Division of Sustainability has been focused on instituting sustainability practices into Atlanta city government. The Division of Sustainability is working with departments across city government to improve current programs and policies and implement new ones in addition to becoming early adopters of national accountability initiatives designed to promote more sustainable municipal practices. In the past year, the city has expanded its scope to include community-wide initiatives.

About the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs (DPRCA)

The Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs (DPRCA) enhances the lives of City of Atlanta residents and visitors by offering programs, services and activities that encourage participation in recreational activities, leisure services and cultural experiences. The department strives to deliver quality customer service through the development, operation and maintenance of the city's public parks, recreation and cultural affairs facilities to create an environment that is deemed safe, affordable and enriching for all.

Suniva ARTisun™ Select Solar Cells Surpass 19 Percent Efficiency in Production

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Suniva, Inc., a U.S. manufacturer of high-efficiency monocrystalline silicon solar cells and modules, today announced its next generation ARTisun™ Select series solar cells are in production. These next generation cells are achieving conversion efficiencies of more than 19 percent, a record for screen-printed cells in full-scale production. Suniva attains these efficiencies using a uniform single-sided emitter along with other proprietary innovations on the front side of the cell. Suniva is the first company to successfully leverage ion implantation as an enabling technology in the mass production of solar cells.

Suniva’s unique intellectual property and proprietary processing capabilities, combined with several years of collaborative research and development on ion implantation technology, enables the company to bring ARTisun Select to the market and into full production as the first of its kind using this unique manufacturing technology. Additionally, Suniva simplified its solar cell manufacturing process by eliminating two entire steps, which allows the company to more cost-effectively produce its record-setting cells. The use of ion implantation in Suniva’s manufacturing process is based on years of development collaboration with Varian Semiconductor Equipment Associates (NASDAQ: VSEA).

“Combined with Suniva’s innovative R&D and proprietary processes, ion implantation provides us with a very cost-effective way to manufacture solar cells of 19 percent efficiency without adding complex processes for a selective emitter. We do have the capability to use a selective emitter, but we have not yet chosen to do so,” said Dr. Ajeet Rohatgi, Suniva founder and CTO. “Our unique development process is what will ultimately enable Suniva to achieve efficiencies in the 20 percent range in our third generation cells on n-type wafer and maintain an equally attractive manufacturing cost.”

Suniva’s record-setting efficiencies for low cost cells are being integrated across its module line with module level efficiencies of 16+%. The ARTisun Select product line is a logical progression on Suniva’s technology roadmap towards its next generation products that are in its labs. This technology roadmap is built around multiple proprietary cell structures certified by NREL as achieving 20% efficiency. Suniva previously achieved industry-leading, certified efficiencies of more than 20 percent on screen-printed cells in the lab.

“Leveraging ion implantation in solar cell processing has traditionally proven too costly and slow. Combined with Suniva’s deep research and our own proprietary design, recipes and processes, we have unlocked the value of the ion implanter as an enabling technology for solar cell processing. The result is an immediate, one percent efficiency gain in ARTisun Select, and an ongoing reduction in our cell conversion costs,” said Bruce McPherson, vice president of research and development for Suniva. “We are quite confident that this is just the first step in a multistep process which will take Suniva well into the 20% category of efficiencies while still maintaining low cost screen printed manufacturing processes. Through continued innovation, optimization and modification of cell design and manufacturing processes, and by leveraging both our unique R&D relationship with the University Center of Excellence in Photovoltaics (UCEP) and strategic 3rd party technology collaborations , such as Varian, Suniva will continue to lead the market in efficiencies so far unattained in low-cost solar cell manufacturing.”

With its expanding, diverse and skilled workforce, Suniva is producing world-class technology and generating record-setting screen printed solar cell efficiencies both in the lab and in manufacturing. For more information about Suniva and its products, please visit

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Georgia Power and EPRI to Study Solar PV Installation on Power Lines

/PRNewswire/ -- Georgia Power and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) are conducting an 18-month study to evaluate how solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems may affect the utility's distribution system.

Fifty PV systems are being installed in seven cities around the state. Seven-to-eight small systems will be installed on one distribution line in each city. Sites were identified based on a number of environmental parameters. Selecting cities around the state will allow evaluation of a variety of conditions such as temperature, cloud cover and solar intensity.

EPRI will monitor each module's power output and sunlight input at one- second intervals for the entire 18 months to determine how much electricity they generate and how well they perform under diverse weather conditions. The panels will remain in place at the end of the project and Georgia Power will continue to monitor long-term results. This research will help to:

* Identify the effects, if any, on operation of Georgia Power's distribution system
* Understand the feasibility of widespread solar PV installations on distribution lines
* Determine ranges for overall PV performance in Georgia
* Characterize and compare variable issues such as passing clouds

Each panel is about 3-by-5 feet in size, and able to generate about 200 watts of electricity.

"An installation of this size will not create a noticeable increase in the amount of energy on our distribution system," says Scott Gentry, Georgia Power's distributed generation services project manager and coordinator for this project. "However, the data we collect from each module will provide useful information on PV generation as it relates to the utilities grid."

PV panels have been installed in Rome, Valdosta, Macon, Augusta, Columbus, Savannah and Conley. EPRI will own the panels while Georgia Power does the installation.

Solar power uses PV cells to convert sunlight directly into electricity. When sunlight strikes a PV cell, electrons are dislodged, creating an electrical current.

Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the nation's largest generators of electricity. The company is an investor-owned, tax-paying utility with rates well below the national average. Georgia Power serves 2.3 million customers in all but four of Georgia's 159 counties.

The Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI) conducts research and development relating to the generation, delivery and use of electricity for the benefit of the public. An independent, nonprofit organization, EPRI brings together its scientists and engineers as well as experts from academia and industry to help address challenges in electricity, including reliability, efficiency, health, safety and the environment. EPRI also provides technology, policy and economic analyses to drive long-range research and development planning, and supports research in emerging technologies. EPRI's members represent more than 90 percent of the electricity generated and delivered in the United States, and international participation extends to 40 countries. EPRI's principal offices and laboratories are located in Palo Alto, Calif.; Charlotte, N.C.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Lenox, Mass.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Georgia Power Strikes Solar Power Deal With Dalton Utilities

/PRNewswire/ -- Georgia Power recently acquired a series of solar projects of up to 1 megawatt (MW) in Murray County, Ga., co-developed by United Renewable Energy LLC and Mack Creek Energy LLC.

Georgia Power will sell the output from the facility to Dalton Utilities.

The plant will be constructed on Looper Bridge Road in Dalton by United Renewable Energy and will be owned and operated by Georgia Power.

Under the terms of the deal, Georgia Power will lease property for the solar facility from Dalton Utilities, which will purchase 100 percent of the plant's capacity and energy through a 25-year power purchase agreement.

"Dalton Utilities is excited to be part of this project," said Don Cope, Dalton Utilities President and CEO. "This is a major initiative in expanding green energy in the State of Georgia. Upon the completion of this project, Dalton Utilities and its corporate customers will be able to advertise the fact that we are utilizing 'green' energy which has become increasingly important in today's market. This is one of several sustainable/renewable/green initiatives Dalton Utilities is in the process of developing."

Energy produced from the solar facility will be sold on the wholesale market therefore the cost of the facility will not become part of Georgia Power's retail rate base. All of the renewable energy credits from the facility will be conveyed to Dalton Utilities. The first phase of the facility is expected to begin commercial operations in spring 2011.

"This contract marks the first time Georgia Power has acquired a solar energy production facility to serve the wholesale market," said Jeff Burleson, Georgia Power's director of Resource Policy and Planning. "Not only will it increase the amount of solar resources in the state, but it also strengthens our partnership with Dalton Utilities, a fellow co-owner of the two new nuclear units under construction at Plant Vogtle."

The facility will be developed in phases with each phase comprising approximately 350 kW. Georgia Power has the option to construct two additional 350 kW phases for a total of 1 MW by January 2014. One megawatt is enough energy to supply a Super Target or approximately 400 Georgia residences.

"As a solar EPC company headquartered in Georgia," said William Silva, President of United Renewable Energy, "we applaud Dalton Utilities' vision, and Georgia Power's support of solar energy in the state. Over 100 solar jobs were created in the state of Georgia last year."

With the addition of this contract, Georgia Power's energy portfolio includes contracts with 14 qualified biomass and renewable facilities throughout the state that generate 28 MW of capacity, or enough renewable energy to power more than 11,200 homes. These contracts include electricity generated from wood waste, landfill methane gas, and hydro.

Dalton Utilities provides potable water, electric, natural gas, wastewater, stormwater and telecommunications services to approximately 77,000 customers in Dalton and five surrounding counties. Dalton Utilities is engaged in various sustainable/green energy projects including the use of treated wastewater to cool a merchant power plant, creating biodiesel from its wastewater stream, the composting of biosolids and the reuse of carpet waste to generate electricity.

Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the nation's largest generators of electricity. The company is an investor-owned, tax-paying utility with rates well below the national average. Georgia Power serves 2.3 million customers in all but four of Georgia's 159 counties.

United Renewable Energy is a solar project developer and multistate electrical contractor specializing in solar photovoltaics. Operating throughout the east coast, United Renewable Energy designs, procures, finances and installs high quality turnkey utility and commercial solar projects.

Mack Creek Energy develops innovative, lowest-cost renewable power projects, with a focus on utility customers that have large fleets of baseload coal generation, such as Georgia Power Company.

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