Dawson, Ga – While 21st Century progress has been extremely hard on the nation’s small towns some of the changes have had a positive effect on individuals.
The State of Georgia now requires power companies to increase the amount of “green energy” they include in their systems. Enterprising entrepreneurs are going around the state, leasing land to install five acre solar fields. Once a project has been completed the solar fields are sold to investors who sell their electricity to Georgia Power and others.
Long ago, when he was quite young, Dawson, Georgia City Manager Barney Parnacott bought a fairly large tract of land as his private hunting preserve near the edge of the city. Recently he was offered a 20 year contract with a possible 10 year extension for five acres of his wooded property.
“I’m 62,” he said. “Won’t be too long before I retire.” While Parnacott will get a pension, he also will receive $1,000 an acre for the solar field that has almost been completed. A neighbor already has a solar field that has a chain link fence around it, installed by a different company.
While windmills have been installed in California, in the Midwest, and along the East Coast, solar power is the answer in the South.
With nuclear power still being challenged and called dangerous, and coal fired plants being phased out by pressure from the Obama Administration, green power may become a reality across America.
People also are making money on land used for cell phone towers.
Parnacott has been town manager since 2000, and before that he was utility director for Dawson. He says more of his land is being considered for additional solar panels.
Dedicating five acres to solar power began in the northern part of the state. In Blairsville land where hay had been grown was converted into a large solar array several years ago. It was the second project in the state. It has been suggested each five acre tract provides the energy to provide power for 160 homes.
The owner of the Blairsville solar project also has a second solar farm in a pecan orchard well to the south. Reporter Melissa Stiers notes the owner of the two early projects says “his new solar ventures will be in North Carolina because of that state’s tax incentives.” In addition she adds “North Carolina’s utilities will buy more solar energy than the ones in Georgia.
That was several years ago. What the situation is now is less clear and requires more research on my part.
Parnacott also points to a bit of downtown progress – a Main Street dinner theater. The productions are written and performed by local residents several times a year. A commercial kitchen was installed, along with stadium seating. The project was launched with a quarter million dollar “tobacco grant” and a quarter million dollar loan that is being paid down by the income from the dinner productions. People are traveling from throughout the ares to attend, he reports. And the debt is being paid down without the city spending a cent.
It is another example of the old cliche about making lemonade when you receive a load of lemons. Here a vacant store backed by people with a good idea is helping downtown Dawson.
Dawson, an unusual city with a population of just 4,396 may be a community worth watching in the future.
The five acre piece of land in Blairsville was just growing hay before it was converted into a solar array that produces enough energy to power about 150 homes.