Solar Power for Emergencies and Disasters.

Jeorge Newberry, a.k.a Solar George drove straight down to the Fla. Keys from Jacksonville as fast as he could when he knew Irma was due to hit in just 48 hrs. “I found a solid cement building at Summerland,” Key Airport, 30 min. from Key West “that belonged to my pilot friend who had evacuated, and stayed there through the storm. When the eye arrived, I went out into the calm, walked a hundred yards onto the center of the runway in front of me, it was submerged under two feet of water, and took pictures before, as the other side of the eye wall moved in. I had to retreat to my shelter.”

He said, “John, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. An army of first responders arrived at the airport so fast immediately after it hit including huge BLACK HAWK army helicopters, a caravan of cargo planes, and the airport is so full of supplies, and volunteers.  I’ve been setting everyone up with solar panels, batteries, cell phone chargers, etc. My house was damaged, but nothing like so many others. At my house, I have two refrigerators, a freezer, fans, lights, and a cell phone charger all running on six Evergreen modules.” Jeorge also has a house and hanger at the airport as well as a ton of PV supplies, as he uses the hanger as his warehouse. “I’m so pumped up after being in that hurricane, and now I’m helping everyone out with all those old small little  GE modules, (4″ x 6”)

“I’m so pumped up after being in that hurricane, and now I’m helping everyone out with all those old small little GE modules, (4″ x 6″) 12 volt modules you sold me. They work perfectly.” They installed a satellite dish at the airport so he and everyone around the airport and all the first responders had internet. The little high-quality GE modules were just what they needed. He had and STILL HAS  tons of inventory of all this equipment right in his hanger at Summerland airport where he was one of the only “riders in the storm”.

Doors: one of their greatest songs:

Solar George deserves to use it as his own theme song, at least for a few years. He deserves it as much as anybody ever did, I think.

AND, he’s still there! I just hung up with him. He let me listen as another converted cargo caravan took off (and waved to Jeorge) as he did, out the window of the plane.

“A big electrical firm with 40 trucks is fixing the electric lines, that travels around the country just repairing elec systems after disasters like Irma. It snapped the old concrete poles in half!” Jeorge told me.

The whole conversation he was all hyped up saying stuff like, “It was so great I’d give anything to be in another one, it was such an incredible experience”. I’m not afraid to tell you that because he was very concerned about his friends and neighbors, he’s a great guy, his new name should be “Fearless Jeorge”.

I could tell you many crazy stories about Jeorge, how his family is so successful and famous in Argentina (great uncle was the first person to fly over the Andes and started their Air Force), all about his flying trips with me as his co-pilot around Yucatán and the Everglades, and he’s famous in the Keys where he has helped thousands of people in the keys to solarize their off-grid island homes for 40 years (he’s installed nearly 100 homes by himself). He’s been in the solar business longer than me, has built his own home, has several PV cars and is an electrical/mechanical genius, although he has blown himself up at least once, building a jet engine powered beer keg cooler. Best party guy and all around funny guy I ever knew too.

So if you know anyone in the Keys, where it’s a total disaster (they are opening the road to residents for the first time tomorrow), have them contact Jeorge. He’s willing to help and he said I can put this number out for those people who need to call him.

Here it is:

(305) 923-4777

Send in your own stories or ideas on how solar power can help save the day in natural disasters!

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There are five types of light: firelight, electric light, sun light and divine light.

Email from Dean

Hi John,

Here’s a photo you might be interested to see. This was in St. Thomas. The panel in the lower right corner seems to have had every grain of fractured glass blown away, but most look like they might still work.

After Hurricane Ivan, we were without mains power for 5 weeks. We didn’t have any solar at the time, but we had battery backup and a diesel genset, so we had most of the comforts of home and the way we had it arranged we only used 43 gallons of diesel. After a ‘cane, comforts are important. Even though we came through it well, we felt a little dazed. Others we came across didn’t fare so well and looked shell-shocked.

I think it is Tide that offers one bit of comfort in disaster areas. They bring in a big trailer loaded with water tanks, generators, washers and dryers. Anybody can come and get their clothes clean. (We borrowed back a hand-cranked antique washer that we had loaned to a museum for my Mom to use). What a great service!

How could solar be useful to provide community relief? I look at what I could do in my neighborhood with my solar boat, Sun King. It makes plenty of power with the solar panels. It has a water filtration system, so any water from pond, puddle or pool becomes fresh and clean. It has a microwave, a fridge, and a coffeemaker. If nothing else, neighbors could have a cup of coffee, nuke a Pop Tart and keep insulin or other meds in the fridge. That would be a tremendous morale booster.

What about on a bigger scale? Pensacola’s electrician’s union has a solar demo trailer. It could be put to work. A flatbed 18 wheeler trailer with a tall rack of panels comes to mind. Below, water tanks, batteries, inverters, coffeemakers, microwaves, fridge, icemaker, etc. Low grade, high-volume food, like biscuits, tortillas or waffles could be prepared cheaply and quickly. There are all kinds of possibilities that come to mind. It could be put together as a consortium: a solar company, a trucking company, appliance company, FEMA, Red Cross, etc. Keep things humming along in a schoolyard or park. Give folks one tiny bit of normalcy.

Then there is phone service. We had landlines. The SLIC down the road was fine for a couple of days until the batteries ran down. The telco had generators on major installations, but there are just so many gensets and we were orphaned. Seems like there is room for some solar cooperation, there. Most of the cell towers didn’t blow down, but their batteries went down, too. Those with generators had a limited supply of diesel.

Railroads, too. CSX chained generators to crossing gates to keep up the batteries in the crossing signals, at least at major intersections. Maybe they should go solar?

This might be a good time for some of your installer-customers to get some new business.

Just some thoughts. I hope your warehouses and your staff come out of this OK.



– The 100 MW of mixed Hanwha inventory and the 8 MW of Astronergy that are listed below in recent previous blogs are all Chinese made. Sooooo thanks to our f….d up government policies, WE CAN’T SHIP THEM TO YOU cause you’re living in America, geeeesus! If you’re in America you get to get s……d by your own bureaucracy. However, we are receiving our LISTS OF OUR CURRENT AVAILABLE INVENTORY IN THE USA REGULARLY. Keep checking my blog.

We bend over backwards to resolve problems.

I just resolved a problem you would not believe with Sun Power modules that did not work, and it was literally at the end of the Amazon River. We had to refund and replace 120 modules plus air freight costs from the USA, river freight from Manaus up the Amazon to Peru, reshipping everything by air to Iquitos Peru, then river again to the site. That cost me $40,000 dollars. Sun Power did nothing! The panels caught fire to the building, a cancer treatment center!

Now to see little problems that grow into huge problems because people don’t call me at the first sign of a problem just kills me. I plaster my phone number everywhere and ask people to contact me directly if they need help. Instead of just calling me, whose job it is to solve problems (well at least one important part of it),  and then so much delay and anger are well… bizarre. On both sides, not just the customer’s side.


I’m the owner, I can do anything. Don’t freak out, just call. I can solve any problem. I’m great at resolving problems. Try me. After 45 years I’ve learned how, right?! Try me.


Ever have what seems to be an insurmountable problem?

One of my favorite books, “DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF…and it’s all small stuff”, suggests “seeing it as a test of some kind, rather than as a serious battle that must be won in order to survive”.

Well, this year I really made an effort at getting back together with a part of my family that had become very distant. It was my oldest brother. About 20 years ago we had a typical brotherly disagreement, in which both sides said and did some things that were pretty stupid. Nothing physical happened, nor was anything lost or stolen. I got over it, but he decided he would never speak to me again.

I tried calling, writing, sending gifts, talking to my other two brothers and his family, but to no avail. And now, none of them talk to me. So, here I am again, wondering why? And hoping my favorite book can get me out of this.

Hmmm, I’m thinking, a test, this is just a test. Well, it’s true, I could just look at it as a test to learn something, to rise above it. Nothing else has worked, so sure, as an old friend of mine once said, “always ask ‘why not’, not ‘why’ in life; it will take you much farther”. That was Congressman George E. Brown, Jr. for whom I had the honor of working with for 4 years as an aide in his office.

One day, in about 1977,  I went up to him and asked, “Congressman, would it be ok if I published a book of all the solar educational courses that were available in the nation’s universities and Jr. collages in the United States?” And, he said “Is there any reason why not, and I instinctively answered, “No.”

The National Solar Energy Educational Directory was published by the Solar Energy Research Institute, SERI, in Golden, Colorado, a few months later. A survey form was sent out to 80,000 deans of all the energy-related Colleges including, Engineering, Architecture, Environmental Sciences, etc. across the country. George, who was Chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee wrote a nice cover letter asking for their cooperation.

It was a great office to work in. The people were amazing! It was located in the Rayburn Bldg. directly across from the office of the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Funny, but I just now realized George was the only Congressman who voted against the appropriations for the Vietnam War one year. Strange office neighbors, eh? What a great man he was.

I just totally forgot about my problem. Guess it worked.