Stimulus Money Adds Jobs,Energy Efficiency To Covington Project

6:09 PM, May 25, 2010   |    comments
Solar panels like this one help Covington's Clarks Grove community clean its pool.
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There's the oil spill in the gulf, and the question of Wall Street regulations, and the implications of health care reform.

Well, remember the stimulus program?

We do. And we continue to monitor where the money is going and how it is being spent.

Georgia has already committed to spending $10 million for energy projects. And some of that money is being spent in Covington.

Less than an hour east of Atlanta, a statue of a civil war soldier stands in the middle of the Covington city square.

Covington is proud of its past.

And it is also proud of its future.

The pump that cleans this swimming pool at the Clarks Grove community is powered by solar energy.

"This is a great example of a stimulus project that's been funded by the federal government to promote renewable energy here in Georgia," said Shane Hix of the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, the agency that distributes 'green' stimulus funds in Georgia.

Clarks Grove is a showcase of sustainability.

But, at first, solar energy was not included.

"We had explored solar early on," said Randy Vinson, project developer of Clarks Grove. "But just the cost/benefit on it wasn't quite there."

But then federal stimulus money made it a no-brainer.

"It can pay for itself in three to five years, I think, is what we're estimating," said Randy Vinson.

Clarks Grove contracted with a local solar company, Hannah Solar, to install solar panels on several commercial buildings and the swimming pool.

The idea is to provide electricity during the most expensive times of the day...and cut overall usage and costs.

"On a hot June, July or August day what the solar is going to do is it's going to generate at peak during those times," said Pete Marte, C.E.O. of Hannah Solar. " So it's going to reduce the demand."

Hannah Solar got a quarter of a million dollars for the project and something more.

"Just that one alone allowed us to bring four people on board full time in addition to the contract labor that we used in the field when we needed it," Pete Marte said.

Perhaps generations from now there'll be another statue in Covington square ...a statue of a solar panel.


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