We've lived up here in Eastern Tennessee at the Turbo Pup Compound on the banks of the Mighty Tennessee River for twenty six months now.
Overall the experience has been quite good, and if I had arrived here when I was 25 or 30 years old I would definitely consider spending most of a lifetime living here in West Knoxtown.
As it is, it's just a matter of time and circumstance and more importantly...FUNDING...which will allow us to escape either back to our Little Island on the Georgia coast or now possibly back to the family farm in Lower Alabama.
That said, one interesting thing I've noticed after spending most of my life buying electricity from some unit of the Southern Company (specifically Alabama Power and Georgia Power), is how ridiculously expensive electricity is when you buy it from the country's only Federal Owned Utility...the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA.)
Without doing the research, I'd guess that our electric rates are nearly 25% higher here on a KW and KWh basis than they were with the Southern Company, and every time we turn around there's some controversy--whether TVA is spilling power plant ash into a local river or cancelling a green energy program without notice and apparently good reason ---more on that in a minute
Now I'm not going to go into all of the details here because you can Google yourself to death looking at the TVA's history, but what basically started out as a "Jobs Program" here in rural Appalachia in the early 1930's under the guise of harnessing the power of the Tennessee and associated river systems has today morphed into a giant pseudo-megga Corporation which produces most of it's power using Coal, with a little Nuclear Energy tossed in for good measure.
While they have more hydro plants than coal/nukes, the reality is that coal and uranium/plutonium make many more light bulbs glow here than water does falling through a turbine.
So any way, the latest rage up here on the Banks of the Mighty Tennessee River has been a government financed "Green Energy" program called "Generation Partners."
The idea was that you could put in solar panels on your house or on top of an industrial or commercial building or even out in a piece of bare ground you owned and get financing based on the future income generated by making "clean energy."
The reality was that TVA was subsidizing owner's return on investment by paying a 12-cent-per-kilowatt-hour premium for any energy you generated and put back into their grid above the amount of electricity you actually used.
Without the artificial, taxpayer funded premium, none of the stuff worked or payed back...the power produced by solar here in Tennessee cost more to produce than the electricity you could buy from a Reactor or "pollution belching" coal fired plant.
Any way, an extensive cottage industry of companies has sprung up over the past couple of years here supporting the program and earning a living for hundreds if not thousands of people dedicated to supplying components and even pre-designed systems of stuff which when put together would let a homeowner make electricity on their roof or in their back yard, and allowing XYZ company to cover their flat roof with panels and get the Federal/State tax credits and earn a little money or at least reduce their normal TVA inflated electric bills.
Pretty cool, even if you're not an Owl Gore loving, tye died, patchuli stinking, sniveling, bed wetting, tree hugging eco greenie weenie...
All of that said , now guess what TVA did last week?
TVA put the program on HOLD.
Why, you might ask?
Because nobody was building solar panels and taking advantage of the "government tax incentives"?
NO...to quote the Knoxville News Sentinel:
TVA was halting the program because of excessive demand.
Ken Elder, owner of solar startup Soltility in Friendsville, said he learned of the freeze through an e-mail from another solar firm late Wednesday and received an e-mail notification Thursday from Nashville Electric Service. TVA did not issue formal information regarding the program until Friday.
"The folks that are working with me are just devastated because we are just really gearing up with potential customers," said Elder, who has been working as a consultant in the industry and is beginning to develop small commercial and residential projects on his own.
"TVA could do a lot of damage just studying this for six or eight weeks. Almost as bad as that, they could come back and say, 'We're going to re-implement the program, but it's not going to be at 12 cents per (kilowatt) hour, it's going to be 4 cents,' " Elder added.
Click on this link and go read the whole story if you're interested, but the bottom line here according to my considered Redneck opinion is this.
This is a perfect example of the mindless, useless, bureaucratic double talk by the Imperial By-God Federal Government of the United States of 'merica in general, and the Obamarama Administration in particular.
The government knows that Solar and Bio-mass and Wind and any of the other so-called "Green Energy" technologies out there won't work without subsidies, yet when they encourage people to go out and invest in their precious eco-friendly technologies--whether it's as an owner trying to get a loan to finance a project or it's a business owner starting a business to supply solar panels and windmills and pipes and technology to implement the systems--you can bet that you are at risk, EVERY SINGLE DAY, of having the rug jerked out from under your feet.
This current "suspension" of the Generation Partners program is indefinite but is supposed to only last for the next six or eight weeks, but in the mean time what are the businesses selling equipment, and owners of projects which were in the application/approval process going to do?
How many new start-up businesses can survive TWO MONTHS without selling anything?
How many customers are going to say "FORGET IT" and walk away from the inane process of permitting and loan/grant applications with the Government through the TVA just saying:
"Oops...we changed our mind...Excuse us."
There is no EXCUSE for crap like this, ladies and gentlemen.
And you probably won't be hearing about this latest example of government ineptitude on the national news, but I suspect that stuff like this is going on behind the scenes all over the country while at the same time President Obama and Pelosi and Reid are running around touting our need to ween ourselves off of the Arab oil tit.
Crap like this makes my head spin at near orbital rotational velocity, and if yours doesn't it should be and you better start paying a little more attention before going to the voting booth this fall and in 2012.
That will be all...for now...