published Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Sun shines on Gordon solar project


by Kelly Jackson
Audio clip

Alvin Long

CALHOUN, Ga. -- County officials learned last week they'll receive stimulus funds to start a solar farm at an old landfill here.

The county will receive a $300,000 energy efficiency and conservation block grant through the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, according to a news release.

"This is going to be a very small solar farm to begin with," County Commission Chairman Alvin Long said. "This is going to be a baby step as to what we would hope we would get into."

PDF: Energy efficiency, conservation block grants news release

PDF:Harris Beamer Solar Farm Presentation

BLOCK GRANTS

About the energy efficiency and conservation block grants:

* $13.3 million awarded for 57 projects benefiting 64 small to medium-sized communities

* Other North Georgia recipients: Calhoun, Bartow County, LaFayette

Source: Grant news release

County officials plan to contract with Sentinx LLC, a renewable energy company based in Johns Creek, Ga., for the project. Grant funds will be used to convert part of the former 36-acre Harris Beamer landfill into a 40-kilowatt ground-mounted solar installation, according to Jeff Stubbs, senior project director for Sentinx.

Hopes are that third-party investors will help grow the project into a much larger solar farm that sells power to TVA, he said in a past interview.

Mr. Long said the project's initial phase will produce enough electricity to offset the county's electricity costs by about $8,000 a year.

"I don't think Gordon County's going to see a real financial impact as far as revenue goes for years," he said. "(But) this was not done as a revenue source. This was done because we feel like it's the way of the future."

Mr. Long stressed that county funds aren't being used for the project.

County Administrator Randall Dowling said, "We still are needing to pass a couple of hurdles" before the project can start.

He said the biggest hurdle is waiting for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to approve reuse of the landfill as a solar farm. That could take two to three months, he said.

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