From Peanuts to Power: The Jimmy Carter Solar Farm

Guest “anatomy of green propaganda” by David Middleton

An old high school friend of mine posted this article on his Facebook page over the weekend:

Former U.S President Jimmy Carter Builds A Solar Farm To Power Half His Hometown.
Posted on: September 25, 2019

A true leader at heart, forever giving power to the people. Literally.

The 39th President of the United States (1977-1981), Jimmy Earl Carter, supported the solar energy industry when he installed 32 panels in the White House for water heating 1979.

A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people,” he had said [1]

One of his predictions did come true as solar energy has become of the fastest-growing energy industries in the world. Today, the 94-year-old’s solar has a solar farm that is supplying 50% of all the energy used in his home town of Plains, Georgia [2]. He signed a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Georgia Power to expand the growth on clean, renewable energy in the state.


According to estimations from the company, the solar panel will continue to generate massive amounts of energy if properly-maintained every year, with a target of 55 million kWh over the next 25 years. The technology is state-of-the-art, with powerful single-axis solar trackers installed to direct the panels towards the sunrays. This will maximize energy capture and reduce labor intensity.


The carbon footprint in the town would be massively reduced with the distribution of clean energy. Solar energy can supply every industrial and domestic appliance it’s supplied to, and it’s especially easy to maintain the farms. It’s freely available from the sun every day and when it’s continually cloudy in the rainy seasons, the energy reserves would still be enough to cater to the people’s power needs.


The Hearty Soul

  1. “A solar farm that is supplying 50% of all the energy used in his home town of Plains, Georgia”… Unless all of the cars, trucks and tractors are EV’s, the solar farm is not supplying 50% of the *energy* used in the town.
  2. “When it’s continually cloudy in the rainy seasons, the energy reserves”… What “energy reserves”?

My friend in Connecticut is a Republican and a YUGE Trump supporter, so he’s not one to hawk green propaganda. But, he is a musician… He may not have picked up on the absurdity of this.

My first thought about Jimmy Carter’s Peanut Solar Farm was: Unmitigated Horst Schist! My second thought was that I needed more information. So, I turned to the always hilarious Clean Tecnica’s Steve Hanley…

Jimmy Carter Builds 1.3 Megawatt Solar Farm For His Hometown Of Plains, Georgia

February 14th, 2017 by Steve Hanley

Originally published on Solar Love.

Jimmy Carter, America’s 39th president, left office under a cloud. His presidency was forever tainted by his famous speech to the American people advising them to wear sweaters in a time of rising energy prices. He was also made to look weak by Ronald Reagan and his band of merry pranksters when a mission to rescue the American hostages in Iran was aborted due to sand getting into the engines of the helicopters.

Reagan later sprang his “October Surprise” just before the election in 1980.


While in office, Carter installed 32 solar panels on the roof of the White House and a solar hot water heater.


Shortly after Reagan occupied the White House, he had the solar panels ripped out and thrown in the trash. You can watch a short video about one of America’s first solar initiatives below.

Now Carter has leased 10 acres of land near his home in Plains, Georgia. Working with SolAmerica, a 1.3 megawatt solar farm has been constructed on the land. Each year, it will supply more than 55 million kilowatt hours of clean energy to the residents of Plains — more than half the town’s annual electrical consumption.



Was that better than the Hearty Soul article? Peter Quill says…

Each year, it will supply more than 55 million kilowatt hours of clean energy to the residents of Plains — more than half the town’s annual electrical consumption.

  1. Plains, Georgia has a population of about 500 people. I really doubt they are consuming 100 million kWh of electricity per year.
  2. If Plains, Georgia had no clouds and the sun shined 24/7/365, 1.3 MW would only generate 11.4 million kWh.

When all else fails, check the website of the company that built the solar farm.

SolAmerica Energy Launches 1.3 MW Solar Project on President Carter’s Farm in Plains, Georgia
Former President and renewable energy advocate Jimmy Carter leases 10-acre site to help harvest the power of the sun

January 27, 2017 – Atlanta, GA – Atlanta-based SolAmerica Energy (“SolAmerica”), a leading solar development and construction firm, will be having a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its latest solar project, on February 8, 2017, from 11:00 a.m. to Noon (Eastern) in Plains, Georgia. Former President Jimmy Carter leased a 10-acre site in his hometown to SolAmerica for development of the 1.3 MW solar project, which will provide over 50% of the power needs of the City of Plains.


SolAmerica developed, engineered and installed the single-axis tracker solar array on Carter’s property. Over the next 25 years, the system is projected to generate over 55 million kilowatt hours of clean energy in Plains.



So, the Hearty Soul failed to include some essential numbers and CleanTecnica’s Steve Hanley conflated things in the wrongest way imaginable. 1.3 MW generating 55 million kWh over 25 years works out to a 19% capacity factor. The Jimmy Carter Peanut Solar Farm was expected to generate an average of about 5,900 kWh/d, covering more than half of a tiny town’s electricity demand. Yet, it doesn’t show up on the EIA map of Georgia energy infrastructure.

Figure 1. GEORGIA State Profile and Energy Estimates (EIA)

If I pan out, we can see that there are other solar generating stations within about 100 km. To the south, near Albany, there’s a USMC Logistics Base solar array, to the northwest, there’s a US Army solar array at Fort Benning and to the north, there’s the 101 MW White Pine Solar, LLC facility. Since its first full month in operation, White Pine has averaged a 23% capacity factor. During sunny months, it ranges from 25-31%. “When it’s continually cloudy in the rainy seasons,” it ranges from 12-19%… with no energy reserves, as there are no battery facilities anywhere nearby.

Figure 2. Solar generating stations “near” Plains.
Georgia has one 1 MW battery facility (+ symbol northwest of Atlanta), nowhere near Plains.

Which state is the one buried in solar farms?

The mass of solar facilities to the northeast of Georgia stands out like a Solyndra bankruptcy. The California of the Southeast is North Carolina.

North Carolina solar power generating stations.

Surely, North Carolina must get most of its electricity from solar power!

North Carolina electricity generation by source (EIA).

Solar power accounted for less than 7% of North Carolina’s electricity generation in September 2019. Fossil fuels (61%) and nuclear power (29%) accounted for 90% of North Carolina’s electricity generation. “Surely you can’t be serious!”

Concluding Remarks

  1. I could have figured out what the real numbers were from the Hearty Soul and Clean Tecnica articles, but it was more fun to do it the way I did it.
  2. The Jimmy Carter Peanut Solar Farm doesn’t show up on the EIA map because it probably isn’t in operation yet. But, I doubt that the Hearty Souls realize this… And I seriously doubt that most Facebook readers would have recognized the idiocy of the article.
  3. Yes, I know North Carolina isn’t in Georgia… But whenever I see a map covered with solar PV facilities… I just have to do the math.

Dan Ackroyd as Jimmy Carter… A Classic!

via Watts Up With That?

January 14, 2020 at 04:13AM

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