2 years ago

Chambers County solar energy project now serving Walmart

(Phil Free / Alabama NewsCenter)

After months of construction, one of the state’s largest solar energy facilities, built in partnership with Alabama Power, is up and running in Chambers County.

The 72-megawatt Alabama Solar A project sits on 1,400 rolling acres, just south of LaFayette. Seventy-two megawatts is an amount of energy equivalent to what is typically needed to power about 18,000 homes.

Most of the renewable energy attributes from Alabama Solar A are going to serve Walmart through a long-term contract, to help the retailer meet its renewable energy goals. Alabama Power is marketing the remaining energy and renewable energy attributes from the project to other customers interested in supporting new renewable generation in the state.

The project is operated by Boise, Idaho-based Clenera and was built by Swinerton Renewable Energy, based in San Diego. Alabama Power has a long-term power-purchase agreement with the primary owner of the facility, Houston-based Centaurus Renewable Energy, to receive all the energy and environmental attributes from the solar farm, which it can then use for its own customers or resell to others – as in the contract with Walmart.

The long-term agreements make the project cost-effective for Alabama Power customers, while also supporting Walmart, one of the state’s most important retailers and employers.

“This project is great for Alabama Power customers because it puts downward pressure on rates. It also helps our partner, Walmart, meet its sustainability goals. And it supports the local economy in Chambers County. It’s a win-win-win,” said John Kelley, Alabama Power’s director of Forecasting and Resource Planning.

Work began in February on the $140 million project, which began generating electricity a few days ago. More than 450 people were employed at the site during peak construction, many of them local workers. The facility’s permanent employees also are being hired locally.

The site, which stretches across gentle, rolling hills, uses more than 338,000 solar panels that automatically track the sun for optimum efficiency. About 57,000 pilings were installed in 4,000 rows to create the solar energy facility.

The project was built with sensitivity to the environment. Detention ponds capture rainwater, helping prevent erosion and protecting water quality. Tree stumps removed during construction were ground into mulch and used across the site to also prevent erosion, until grass planted throughout the facility had a chance to sprout and grow.

“It’s been a great partnership, all around,” said Vince Longo, project engineer for Swinerton, who hails from Sacramento, Calif. It was the first time Longo was involved in constructing a solar facility in the deep South. He said local officials were helpful throughout the build-out, and treated him and other out-of-towners warmly. “Southern hospitality is real,” he said.

“It really has been a good relationship, with all the partners,” said Kevin Winchell, field service manager for Clenera. “Everyone has worked well together, to get this project done.”

Alabama Solar A is the third solar project connected to Alabama Power to begin operating in 2017. Earlier this year, Alabama Power unveiled company-owned solar facilities on two of the state’s military bases, Anniston Army Depot and Fort Rucker. The company also has rights to the generation from two wind farms in the Midwest and markets the renewable energy attributes from all these projects to interested parties. Alabama Power also produces clean, renewable hydro power at 14 hydroelectric facilities on the Coosa, Tallapoosa and Black Warrior rivers.

“Alabama Power was founded on renewable energy, and we support new renewable energy projects where they make sense for our customers,” Kelley said. He said the company is looking for other opportunities to expand its use of renewable energy for the benefit of customers and the state.

Alabama Solar A – Fun Facts

— $140 million investment

— 1,400 acres

— More than 450 workers at peak construction

— 338,662 solar panels

— 89 miles of direct-current, underground conductors

— 26 miles of medium voltage underground conductor

— 9 miles of fiber cable

— 34 detention basins for protection of water quality

(By Michael Sznajderman, courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 hour ago

Pringle: Heterosexual, Southern, conservative Christians blamed for ‘every wrong in society’

State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) is out with a second television ad in his Republican bid for Alabama’s First Congressional District seat, and, like his first TV ad, the latest spot does not shy away from being different.

The new ad lasts 30 seconds and features Pringle speaking into the camera for all but the closing snippet at the very end that contains a mandatory disclaimer.

“I’m Chris Pringle,” he says to open. “These days, if you look like me and believe like me, every wrong in society is your fault.”

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“If you’re straight, Southern, conservative and, heaven forbid, Christian, they call you a racist and blame you for everyone else’s problems,” he continues. “Maybe I’m not supposed to say that, but someone has to.”

“I’m Chris Pringle, and I approve this message because saving this country means keeping the radical left from killing it,” the candidate concludes.

Watch:

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, he commented, “South Alabama deserves a leader who will put our conservative principles above political correctness, and who won’t concede an inch to radical leftists trying to destroy our way of life.”

Pringle is running in a competitive GOP primary field on March 3 that also includes former State Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) and Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl.

This latest ad comes as Pringle pushes to get his “Gender is Real Legislative” (GIRL) Act passed in the Alabama legislature. The bill would require public schools to make sure every entrant in an athletic competition is sorted by the gender on their birth certificate. The bill also forbids any state, county or municipal government/agency from providing a facility to a single-gender competition that allows a transgender entrant. The GIRL Act exempts any event that is specifically designed to have both boys and girls as competitors.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

14 hours ago

UA Dance Marathon raises over $307,000 for Children’s Miracle Network

The University of Alabama Dance Marathon (UADM) announced Monday that it raised $307,843.20 for Children’s of Alabama during its most recent fundraiser, which takes place annually.

The total raised was presented during the organization’s recent BAMAthon event, the organization’s 13.1-hour dance marathon. Over the course of nine years at the University of Alabama, more than $1.6 million has been raised for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in Birmingham.

Current and former patients of Children’s of Alabama, referred to as “Miracle Kids,” attended the event to share their stories with those participating in the event.

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For the parents of Brayden Butler, “known to friends and family as B.B., a 13-year-old Miracle Kid from Chelsea who suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2014, UADM represents a place of belonging and an opportunity to find hope and healing.”

“B.B. deals with challenges due to his disability,” said Christie Butler, Brayden’s mother. “UADM has shown B.B. that there is a bigger purpose out there. It gives him a platform to reach others about all the good things that come from Children’s of Alabama.”

Lily Klootwyk, president of UADM 2020, offered her thanks to those who helped raise money and produce the event.

“UADM is a special organization full of people who are going to change this world,” Klootwyk said. “We’ve accomplished nothing alone and everything together.”

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

14 hours ago

Alabama Realtors Association announces primary endorsements

The political arm of the Alabama Association of Realtors on Monday announced its endorsement of candidates for Alabama’s upcoming March 3 primary elections.

The list of Alabama Realtors Political Action Committee (ARPAC) endorsements includes candidates respectively for the Public Service Commission, Supreme Court and Courts of both Civil and Criminal Appeals. Further, the National Association of Realtors PAC has announced endorsements in each of the state’s seven U.S. House districts. According to a release, all the announced candidates endorsed exhibited a commitment to home ownership, private property rights and economic growth.

“The real estate industry and Alabama’s economy are dependent upon each other to remain healthy and thriving,” stated Forrest Meadows, ARPAC trustees chair. “We look for candidates who understand the relationship between the two, and share the REALTOR® vision of protecting private property owners against harmful legislation and fighting for policies that will aid in the development of prosperous communities and businesses across the state.”

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“We feel strongly that these candidates will work hard to ensure private property rights remain a top priority and support efforts for economic growth and homeownership in Alabama,” added Jeremy Walker, Alabama Association of Realtors CEO.

ARPAC endorsements as follows:

For president of the Alabama Public Service Commission:

Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh

For Alabama Supreme Court Place 2 Associate Justice:

Brad Mendheim

For Alabama Court of Civil Appeals:

Place 1: Bill Thompson
Place 2: Matt Fridy

For Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals:

Place 1: Mary Windom
Place 2: Beth Kellum

The National Association of Realtors endorsed the following congressional candidates:

U.S. House of Representatives, District 1: Chris Pringle
U.S. House of Representatives, District 2: Jeff Coleman
U.S. House of Representatives, District 3: Mike Rogers
U.S. House of Representatives, District 4: Robert Aderholt
U.S. House of Representatives, District 5: Mo Brooks
U.S. House of Representatives, District 6: Gary Palmer
U.S. House of Representatives, District 7: Terri Sewell

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

15 hours ago

Did Tuberville really say government handouts for illegal aliens are ‘Donald Trump’s fault’?

On Monday, a national news outlet shared a truncated clip from a 2019 speech by Tommy Tuberville that makes it seem like the U.S. Senate candidate and former Auburn University head football coach blamed President Donald Trump for illegal aliens receiving free government handouts.

The speech in question was first reported on by Yellowhammer News way back in August. National outlets at the time jumped on Tuberville’s comments, because he did indeed ding Trump for what Tuberville viewed as a lack of progress when it comes to the state of veterans’ healthcare in the United States.

However, a reporter from Breitbart News on Monday posted an isolated audio clip from that speech, alleging that Tuberville was focusing his criticism of the president on immigration. The headline read, “Tommy Tuberville in Unearthed Remarks: ‘We’re Paying for Illegals to Come Over Here … That’s Donald Trump’s Fault.’” The article also claimed that the remarks were “previously not reported on.”

Here’s the full part of Tuberville’s speech in question:

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I’m pissed off at Donald Trump that our vets can’t get health care. And if I ever get to see him, I’m going to tell him that. You said you were going to fix it and it ain’t fixed. And that’s who we ought to be taking care of — these young men and women. I’ve had them come up to me and cry. ‘Coach, we can’t get health care. Nobody will take care of us.’ 22 vets every day – every day are committing suicide. We can’t take care of them. We won’t take care of them. We’re paying for illegals to come over here – everything they’re getting: cell phones, health care, everything they want. That’s Donald Trump’s fault. That’s his fault. He’s got to get it done. That’s one of the most important things I think we need to do because we send young men and women over to fight for us, put their life on the line and we don’t take care of them? What are we doing? What are we doing?

I’m a Donald Trump guy, but there are things that he hasn’t done yet that we got to get done. And I think he’s had to fight every battle by himself. He can’t get to all of them because nobody is helping him. Nobody is standing up for him.

And here’s the audio snippet from that speech released on Monday:

This same reporter has hit Tuberville on the immigration issue in the past, and the latest article comes on the heels of Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01), one of Tuberville’s GOP opponents, releasing a television ad accusing the former coach of supporting “amnesty.” Tuberville contends that his comments referenced in the Byrne ad were focused on legal immigration, rather than amnesty for illegal aliens. Tuberville has forcefully denied being for amnesty.

Reacting to the latest Breitbart piece on Monday, Tuberville commented in a statement to Yellowhammer News, “The Tuberville plan to fight illegal immigration mirrors everything Donald Trump has said on the issue. We’ve got to close our borders, protect American jobs, stop illegal drugs, and block terrorists from sneaking into our country.”

“The Trump administration believes we must prioritize skilled workers who apply to come here legally so they can do the jobs that Americans just don’t want to do,” he continued. “I’m simply backing President Trump’s policy…just like I’ll do in Washington.”

The primary will be held March 3, just 15 days away. Tuberville and Byrne are likely competing among each other and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for two runoff spots for the GOP nomination to face U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in November.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

15 hours ago

It’s time for Alabama legislators to end the wasteful practices of subsidizing newspapers to print public notices

Every year, Alabama’s various governments are required by law to take tax dollars collected from their citizens and hand them over to print newspapers to comply with public notice laws.

These laws force these entities to notify the public of matters facing them through the pages of these newspapers. There are no other options.

Local city governments? Yep.

Local boards of education? Yep.

State agencies? Yep.

With each of these requirements, a private entity is subsidized by tax dollars for a service that no one actually uses. To say this is a scam is an understatement.

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Current Alabama law requires government entities in Alabama to advertise and pay for legal notices, legislation, constitutional amendments, voter rolls and other public matters in the local print media outlets.

As I have pointed out before, this is not chump change.

  • The City of Huntsville spends up to $115,000 each year.
  • Madison County spends up to $153,000 each year.

The real cost across the state is clearly into the multiple millions of dollars range.

Last week, Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” and explained that Madison County alone was forced to pay $75,000 to Alabama Media Group, the parent company of AL.com, which runs a sports blog with a liberal bias.

For what? A 112-page list of voters.

Strong says he knows no one is reading this list to see if they are eligible to vote.

“You’re printing a 112-page document that will be used to light fires in people’s burn pits,” he explained. “People don’t even look at it, they throw it in the garbage can.”

The Secretary of State’s Office has a phone number and a website where people can see if they are eligible to vote, so this is all completely unnecessary.

Keep in mind, this is one county. All 67 counties in the state had to pay for this “service,” and they all know it is a waste of their resources.

Strong noted, “I promise you $75,000 practically every two years over 10 years, that’s $375,000, and I can tell you Madison County has a bunch of needs that money could go toward a lot more beneficial than a list.”

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Multiple lawmakers have attempted to cut in on these legal notices over the years, with little success.

State Representative Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals) tried last year. He said in 2019, “I think it’s really hard to make a case in Alabama that we need more taxes while we are not spending the money we have in an efficient manner.”

Sorrell is trying again this year:

Relating to public notices; to provide for electronic publication of public notices on a public notice website operated by the Secretary of State; to provide for fees for publication; to allow counties and municipalities to opt out under certain conditions; and to provide for delivery of public notices to the Secretary of State for publication on the public notice website.

Secretary of State John Merrill is all in on supporting this bill.

My takeaway:

The same challenges that came up in 2019 will come up again in 2019. No one wants to fight the newspapers on this because they know the newspapers will fight back.

We all know the old saying: “Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.”

But it is time to pick this fight. The status quo is a scam that gives tax dollars to newspapers and citizens get little in return. It is time for other legislators to join him and get this done.

Listen:

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.