Way Down Upon the Suwanee River

My brother and I drove across Florida from Pensacola to Lake City on business. It was good to put faces to the voices we knew from the phone calls. What we were not expecting to see were thousands of solar panels. The last few times I’ve been across Interstate 10, all you’d see of note on I-10 was the devastation of Hurricane Michael.

Suddenly, I realized something and told Andy, “Hey, we own that!” At least we own a few hundred shares of the company that owns that.

That Florida, the alleged Sunshine State, has solar farms is not unexpected. Suwanee County is timber country and was not devastated by the hurricane. They did have some pine beetle problems, so maybe they decided to get out of the pine tree business and into power.

I found some newspaper clippings and was surprised to see how quickly it had happened. NextEra started the approval process something like a year and a half ago for a solar farm that is to be built a mile from my place. There was a flurry of activity last year with surveyors and such, but not the first post hole has been dug. You just wouldn’t believe the regulatory hurdles involved!

Financing is always an issue and so is material supply. So many solar farms are going in that the module plants are running flat out with backorders. Folks who use import panels are now having to deal with China essentially being shut down owing to the Wuhan Flu. It is always something isn’t it?

On the return trip, as we drove west of Tallahassee, approaching Marianna, we were back in the hurricane zone. Millions of pine trees were broken off half way up. Acres of land were layered as high as a house in wood chips made from clearing all the downed trees. This seemed an area suited for a new solar farm. The entire power grid was wiped out in this area, so they had to start from scratch. Have they incorporated Solar-Plus-Storage in their plans? Don’t know, but it would seem a good idea.

More notable than the solar farm we saw and the place I thought would be good for another one was the total absence of rooftop and backyard solar. Maybe we just didn’t see it from the Interstate. Again, if you are rebuilding from scratch and had gone through a period of months without power, you’d want solar, wouldn’t you? Perhaps the priority was to get a roof and solar will come later.

If you do decide to go solar, YOU should not have to worry about the kinds of shortages that concern the big boys. John does not generally import the Chinese modules and much of what he buys comes from factory closeouts, bankruptcy auctions and used panels from decommissioned arrays. You’d be surprised how much of that stuff is around when you have a solar bloodhound like John on the hunt. Sun Electronics always seems to have a good inventory at great prices.


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