Dublin School breaks ground on landmark 1.1 MW Mage Solar PV-system

Source: http://www.pv-magazine.com/

By: Mage Solar

Unique financing model saves teachers’ jobs, reduces furloughs; State officials commend school on innovative approach to hedge against budget cuts.

Mage Solar, a turn-key provider of optimally coordinated PV-system solutions announced today that the company will provide a 1.1 MW solar PV system to Dublin City High School. The 4898 module system will be spread out over several locations on campus and include roof top arrays, ground mounts, as well as several dual axis trackers. It will be the largest system in the Middle Georgia area and the very first one in the state that utilizes a third party lease model for schools.

Greenavations Power LLC, a solar consulting group with a “Physics to Finance”-approach, and Renewable Energy Equipment Leasing (REEL), a Georgia-based finance company, as well as the Atlanta law firm Arnall Golden Gregory have worked with Mage Solar to create the financing structure that will reduce the school’s utility costs about 40%. The savings will free up crucial capital expenses—resources much needed to pay teachers’ salaries, continue essential programs and decrease the number of furlough days the school will have to implement.

In a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday Georgia Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” Mc Donald announced: “Today is the first day of tomorrow. This day represents entities coming together to work toward a common goal and to break the ice for solar in Georgia. I am proud to be here in Dublin today.”

The Superintendent of Dublin City Schools Dr. Chuck Ledbetter said in a recent statement: “As educators struggle with decreasing revenues, the ability to not only reduce operating costs with solar power but also to essentially stabilize our energy costs for the next 25 years is a huge benefit to our school system. This will allow us to focus more of our resources on our primary mission, student learning.”

“Solar technology came of age several years ago,” says Robert Green, CEO of Greenavations Power LLC. “It has crossed the financial chasms that have ended many good technologies. Solar has achieved such a point of technical maturity and reliability that it is time for financing methodologies, such as bonds, to become standard practice.”

Peter T. Micciche, the President and CEO of Renewable Energy Equipment Leasing, LLC (REEL) comments: “We are excited to have been a part of this project and are looking forward to when solar technology is utilized throughout the State of Georgia. In the overall scheme of things Georgia can utilize and maximize the sun’s intensity, coupled with a high value producing panel from Mage Solar this is the perfect combination for both municipal as well as all commercial applications.”

Besides energy savings and a substantial reduction of operating costs, the solar installations will also be integrated into the curriculum as an educational tool. Through the production monitoring system, students in the physics lab will have the opportunity to learn about real-life energy generation while business classes will examine the financial benefits and return on investment. Evergreen Solar Services, a nationally operating installer company with focus on large commercial and utility scale installations, will construct, commission, and maintain the operation of the photovoltaic system.

Joe Thomas, the President and CEO of Mage Solar, comments: “Mage Solar is extremely excited about this project in our very own community of Dublin. When education and sustainability come together to secure jobs and create financial savings that can be reinvested in the school, clean solar energy has the most positive impact imaginable. We would like to thank our partners at REEL, Greenavations Power, Arnall Golden Gregory, Evergreen Energy and of course, the Dublin City School for their vision and determination in making this project a reality.”

New Bill Could Help Georgia Ratepayers Reap Solar Cash Crop

Source: http://www.greentechmedia.com

By Adam James

Water, water everywhere and nary a drop to drink. That basically sums up the situation with solar in Georgia.

Local Public Service Commissioner Lauren "Bubba" McDonald, Jr. put it best: "Georgia is the third best state for solar energy in the U.S., but ranks 35th in actual solar installs, even though the cost of panels has decreased 33 percent.” In fact, the state boasts the same solar potential as central Africa or India, with most parts of the state generating between 4.92 and 5.21 kilowatt-hours per square meter, per day.  

Add all these factors up, and you have an untapped market opportunity. No surprise, then, that Georgia Solar Utilities company is backing the “Rural Georgia Economic Recovery and Solar Resource Act of 2013.” The new bill would create a unique financing model for solar, wherein third parties (like Georgia Solar Utilities) can submit proposals to the Public Service Commission for financing and aggregating solar.

The third party can pool the electricity from these solar installations and sell it back to the grid, while individual customers can offset a portion of their bills by receiving a pro-rata share of the monthly output from all the solar generating assets. This includes renters and other customers who can’t afford to own or install their own solar, due to Georgia’s prohibitions on PPAs and other third-party financing methods.

Some of the bill’s wonky details could really help the solar market in Georgia. For starters, the statute clears roadblocks like interconnection and grid access for generating assets, and the entire program is on an opt-in basis. Competitive bidding on construction and installation will create market incentives to help drive down soft costs. And, since PV and solar farms are covered under the statute, neighborhood homes in Atlanta could have solar on the roof while unused fields in the country can host 30-megawatt solar farms. If the sun is shining in either place, ratepayers in both places reap the benefits -- and this kind of geographical distribution helps decrease variability.

“The world has changed for the economics of solar in Georgia, but we’re stuck with 40-year-old laws that block us from taking advantage of it,” said Robert Green, CEO of Georgia Solar Utilities. “So we’re offering a conservative, no-brainer proposition: let a private company bear all the downside risk for investing in solar with no upward pressure on utility rates, and let ratepayers reap the upside of future cost savings as solar prices fall.”

It’s not all smooth sailing. Cost recovery, for example, is a dog-eared chapter in the solar naysayers’ handbook. The argument goes like this: solar imposes costs to the grid, such as wear-and-tear on distribution lines, which have operation and maintenance costs. Also, “cost-shifting” can occur as rates for non-solar-users rise as rates for solar-users fall.

The bill tactfully deals with this issue head-on by proposing a regulatory liability reserve for cost recovery and rate reduction. The third party pays the liability to the grid operator, and that money is then used to offset any unforeseen rate impacts from their solar projects. Any remaining money is reimbursed to solar subscribers as a rate-reduction dividend.

This strikes a good balance, but the devil is in the details. In addressing rates and compensation, solar advocates would be wise to keep a close eye on the Georgia docket to make sure that the full benefits of solar to grid operations (including reducing peak demand and preventing the need to build new plants at the margin) are made clear in the proceedings.

Hopefully, this statute will bring lots of solar on-line in the sunny state of Georgia, and help consumers develop more localized energy production. What’s more, it could serve as a model for deploying solar in other regulated states that have been resistant to retail deregulation and renewable portfolio standards.

Scott Thomasson, an energy consultant in Washington, D.C. who is familiar with the legislation, thinks the idea could catch on: “Many states still like their current regulated-monopoly models just fine, and they’re waiting to see what Georgia decides to do as a first-mover on solar. If Georgia adopts an approach like this, other states could easily replicate it, and we could see solar spreading like kudzu across the South.”

Solar Plant To Be Located at Dublin High

Source: http://www.13wmaz.com/

Dublin High School of Dublin City Schools will soon implement 1 megawatt of solar energy. The 4,000 panel solar power plant will be the largest in Central Georgia and is expected to save the school 40 percent in energy costs.

Dublin City Schools Superintendent Chuck Ledbetter told 13WMAZ, "The facility will be built and owned by private business and the school system will lease the solar power plant, saving us money in energy costs."

The original plan was developed more than 15-months ago by German based MAGE SOLAR, which has a plant located in Laurens County.

Members of the Public Service Commission will attend a groundbreaking Monday at the Dublin High School auditorium.

You can hear more from Supt. Chuck Ledbetter on Eyewitness NewsMornin' Friday at 6:30 a.m. 

Dublin High School Adds Solar Panels

Source: http://www.gpb.org/

A high school in middle Georgia is set to install 4,000 solar panels to reduce its energy costs by roughly 40 percent.

Dublin City Schools Tuesday announced that bonds from the Dublin-Laurens Development Authority will finance the plan to make Dublin High School middle Georgia's largest solar power provider.

Dublin City Schools Superintendent Chuck Ledbetter told The Courier Herald of Dublin the plan was 15 months in the making, and officials say the panels are set to be installed by the end of May.

The system will include an arrangement of rooftop solar panels, panels mounted on the ground and panels that will track the sun to generate the maximum amount of power for the school.

Dublin is about 55 miles southwest of Macon in Laurens County.

Dublin High School looking at solar energy to save money

Source: http://www.newscentralga.com/

Dublin High School could be looking to the sun when it comes to saving money.

A news conference scheduled for Monday, March 11th is expected to announce a one-megawatt solar energy model. Susanne Fischer-Quinn with MAGE Solar says under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Chuck Ledbetter, Dublin High School is using a financing model that is "unique" in the state of Georgia to implement 1 Megawatt of solar energy. 

Fischer-Quinn says with the energy savings generated, the high school should be able to reduce the number of furlough days to a minimum and save teaching positions. 

It's being labeled a landmark project in the "deployment and implementation of renewable energies for schools and municipalities in Georgia and will bear major significance in the further development of similar projects."

Among the speakers at the news conference, will be school and elected state officials as well as Public Service Commissioners Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, Doug Everett, and Tim Echols.

WGXA will bring you more details on Monday's announcement as it becomes available.