Category Archives: Solar

Dalton Georgia: From Carpet Capital of the World to America’s Solar Manufacturing Capital

Dalton Georgia and the Northwestern part of that state were literally put on the map in the early 1900’s by an inspiring combination of the invention of the automobile, the paving of U.S. Highway 41 that then ran from Michigan to Miami, and the ingenuity of a 15-year-old entrepreneur with a fifth-grade education by the name of Catherine Evans-Whitener.


Catherine was born in Northwest Georgia in 1880 and when she was just 12 saw what’s called a tufted quilt during a family visit to her cousin’s home. She quickly fell in love with quilting and spent the next three years mastering her craft and giving away her creations as gifts. Her work became so popular that by the time she turned 15 she had created a small business that sold hand-made quilts to people who would drive from Miami to Michigan and all sorts of places in between in that new invention called the automobile and on that newly paved road that went through the town she lived in. By 1917 she and her family created the Evans Manufacturing Company that, in addition to quilts and tufted bedspreads, evolved into selling machine made carpets. Soon other woman in the region were inspired by Catherine’s success and were opening their own textile companies all over Northwest Georgia. Today, Dalton and the Northwest Georgia region is known as the ‘Carpet Capital of the World’ and employs over 30,000 people who work in over 150 carpet mills and about 100 carpet outlets.

“By 2027, the Qcells expansion is projected to supply about 30% of total U.S. demand for solar panels. I think it’s fair to say that this deal is President Biden’s vision come to life.”

John Podesta
White House Senior Advisor for Clean Energy Innovation & Implementation

And by now you might be asking yourself what does a 15 year old elementary school dropout and carpet manufacturing have to do with solving our climate crisis? Well, just maybe, a lot. You see, in 2022 Georgia Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff introduced the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act to create tax incentives designed to dramatically increase domestic solar manufacturing here in the United States. The bill was included in the Biden Administration’s landmark 2022 Inflation Reduction Act and may serve, some say, to help transition the United States into the solar equipment manufacturing capital of the world. I sure hope that is exactly what happens, that America becomes the dominate manufacture of solar parts and equipment on the planet. If that’s to happen then it appears it will start in Dalton Georgia, the same region that Catherine started her industry.

“We are seeking to further expand our low-carbon solar investments as we lead the industry towards fully American-made clean energy solutions,”

Justin Lee, CEO, Qcells

You see, a South Korean company by the name of Hanwha Qcells announced this week that it is investing $2.5 Billion to expand its existing Dalton Georgia plant and to also build a new plant there in Northwest Georgia. The White House has also just announced that the Qcells news represents the nation’s single largest investment in solar manufacturing in American history. Whether from an economic perspective, our national security or the climate crisis, this investment and news is wonderful.

Qcells currently manufactures solar parts that are capable of generating 1.7 gigawatts of electricity each year at its Dalton plant. But after the expansions the company will be able to make 8.4 gigawatts worth of modules (about 10,000 solar panels) per year, which will include a capacity of 5.1 gigawatts in Dalton and 3.3 gigawatts in its nearby Cartersville factory. Once completed the new facility will represent the first and only entirely domestic supply chain here in the United States by making solar panels, silicon ingots, wafers and cells (currently China dominates such manufacturing, especially ingots and wafers) and result in the creation of 2,500 good paying jobs.

Qcell’s parent company (Hanwha) spent over a year doing due diligence to search for the best location for its expansion and investment. Ultimately, the company narrowed its choice down to Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas before selecting Georgia. And, as good as the news in Georgia is, one can’t help but wonder why the so called “Sunshine State’s” (Florida) government is never, ever mentioned as being at the forefront of brining this type of investment and innovation, much less the solutions we need to reduce carbon and help solve our climate crisis. Florida is at dire risk from our world’s climate crisis including rising sea levels and the sooner our leaders (especially people like Governor DeSantis and US Senators Rubio and Scott) become part of the solution by leading and facilitating the type of investment that’s taking place in Georgia, rather than supporting antiquated industries and their pollution, the better.

And speaking of investment, although it’s not nearly enough (yet) to solve the climate crisis I think it’s fair to say that this White House, especially through 2022, has made commendable strides in putting America’s money where the problem is. The Biden Administration has driven an estimated $300 billion in private investment in electric vehicles, semiconductors, clean energy, and batteries to help push America’s transition from a fossil fueled based economy to one based on sustainable energy solutions. Bravo.

But as good as this news is (and it’s truly excellent) I just can’t help but wonder and worry about Florida’s future.

Nearly $25 billion of the $300 Billion I just mentioned is being invested in the State of Georgia including two $5 billion electric vehicle plants, and a $4 Billion battery plant (just last month Hyundai announced that it is building an electric vehicle plant in Georgia while also partnering with another South Korean company [SK Group] to build a battery plant in Northwest Georgia). If all of this seemingly began with a 15-year-old Georgia girl’s skill at quilting, can you imagine what a group of inspired Floridian’s could do together to evolve industry, create countless jobs, and help play a role in solving the most significant challenge mankind has ever faced?

Breaking News: Florida Sets Climate Goal of 100% Renewable Energy by 2050 by Accepting Youth Petition

FDACS Press Conference

Today is a big day for Florida and for our environment.

As a result of the Petition my friends and I filed in January, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried agreed to begin the rulemaking process and today announced the Rule setting the goal that Florida achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050. This Rule holds the promise of starting to solve the cause of our climate crisis, the use of fossil fuels, and I could not be more excited, nor proud.

I’d like to start by thanking my other three youth Petitioners in this historic effort: Valholly, Isaac, and Levi. I must tell you that whether it’s acting as youth plaintiffs in the lawsuit we filed against Governor Scott several years ago or the Rule we are advancing today, it is not easy putting ourselves in the line of fire so to speak, especially so at such young ages, nor is it easy having to make countless sacrifices to fight for our environment. But I know I speak for each of us when I say that the importance of what we are trying to accomplish, what we are trying to protect not only for ourselves but for every future generation is worth the time and sacrifice. So, thank you Valholly, Isaac, and Levi.


And speaking of young Floridians, allow me to also thank the hundreds of young people all over the state who signed on to support our Petition earlier this year. To each of you I am sincerely grateful and most certainly proud. The work to implement rules to shift Florida’s energy to sustainable solutions will be long and I suspect often hard, but I know I can count on young Floridians to do the right thing, to fix what the adults before us have done and to make Florida a leader in the world-wide fight against our climate change crisis.

I’d like to, of course, thank Commissioner Fried for her leadership in accepting our Petition as well as her staff members Ms. Shelby Scarpa and Mr. Steven Hall for their hard work. Supporting our Petition for Rulemaking requires fortitude and a passion to set political differences aside but, of course, anything truly worthwhile requires such sacrifices and I am proud of each of you for making the right decision and supporting the concerns of not only my friends and me, but future generations forever more.

I’d also like to thank the folks from Our Children’s Trust including Julia Olson and especially my friend, lawyer, and longtime supporter in my desire to see Florida address the cause of climate pollution, Andrea Rogers, as well as Paul Rink and David Schwartz. Allow me to also thank Mitchell Chester, my Ft. Lauderdale based attorney. I’ve known Mitchell since I began working to fix our climate crisis when I’d just become a teenager and I am very grateful for his support and friendship for now nearly a decade, so thank you Mitch.

So on this gorgeous South Florida Spring Day, I’d like to share why today’s announcement is so important, what should happen next and why the opportunity ahead of us is so exciting.

As I mentioned, and as is worth repeating, the promise that the Rule holds is that today Florida can begin to actually address a core cause of our climate crisis: the use of fossil fuels in Florida’s energy system. That’s why today’s announcement and the steps that will follow are so monumentally important to our future.

The 2006 Florida Renewable Energy Policy (§366.92) that the Florida Legislature passed was created to transition our energy sources in Florida to sustainable sources by 2050 and not only better protect our own State but help the United States and the world beyond solve the cause of our climate crisis. Unfortunately, 12 years have passed since that law was created and in that time our government has done nearly nothing to embrace the 2006 law’s promise of shifting Florida’s energy sources to entirely sustainable ones.

That is until today when inaction transitions into action.

And speaking of politics, some elected leaders would have you believe that they are committed to addressing our climate crisis by strictly touting mitigation and resiliency efforts.

Unfortunately, it is true that we have no choice but to work to mitigate the damage mankind has already done and continues to do to our atmosphere and oceans by employing measures you can find all over South Florida such as seawalls, raising roads, and installing pumps as just a few examples.

But if we are to ever actually solve what’s causing our climate change crisis it will not be through mitigation and resiliency but by having our leaders, both private and public, actually address the foundational cause.

Now I might only be 22 but it seems to me that rather than allowing the problem to get worse by the day, rather than throwing away hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, and in time trillions, to try and mitigate the problem we should be trying to solve what’s causing the problem: the use of fossil fuels all over our planet, including most certainly right here in Florida.

Is that not a worthy goal of our public servants, those elected to help us? I sure think so and, with that in mind, I am calling on our elected officials to embrace the rule making process and help nudge our energy providers to becoming 100% sustainable by 2050.

And speaking of Florida’s energy providers, I call on each of you to also embrace the Rule and to transparently work with the State and public to meet the goal of only utilizing sustainable energy on or before 2050. Together we can transition our energy sources to sustainable ones.

To Eric Silagy, Florida Power and Light’s CEO, and both my local power company and Florida’s largest energy company, I’d like to challenge you and your parent company, NextEra Energy, to openly and publicly embrace this transition and the Rule that is about to be established in a transparent manner. I ask you to set aside the PR and expensive television advertising touting your supposed commitment to sustainable energy and ask that we work together to shift your energy sources to being 100% sustainable by 2050.

FPL has been in business here in Florida since 1925 and after nearly 100 years sources less than 3% of its energy from solar, from the sun. Remarkably, FPL sources nearly the same amount of its energy from coal and oil. Mr. Silagy, FPL can and must do better and I call on you to embrace the rulemaking process to work with us to make this a reality.

I also want to very specifically ask Florida Governor DeSantis to set the political rhetoric aside and to publicly embrace the rule making process and in doing so demand that Florida’s energy suppliers shift entirely to sustainable sources. If you are serious about protecting our environment, about Florida’s future and about lowering energy costs for Floridians then today’s news should be easy for you to support.

Allow me to also address a couple of the reasons why today’s news is so filled with opportunity for our state.

Some, of course, will suggest that one state within one country can’t have an impact in helping solve the climate crisis but I do not agree. Consider that according to the Florida Chamber Foundation, if Florida were a country of its own then our economy would be the 17th largest in the world. And soon will be the 15th largest and by 2030 Florida is projected to be the 10th largest ahead of entire countries such as Russia, Brazil, and Spain to name just three. With 22 million residents, a number expected to grow to at least 26 million by the end of this decade, Florida most certainly has the size and scope to make a real difference in solving our climate crisis and to lead the way for others to surely follow.

 And since we are in sunny South Florida let’s consider that according to the World Economic Forum 79% of the United States’ energy demand could be met by solar power and enhanced battery systems by 2050, while also lowering energy system costs. And that’s just from solar power.

I’ve grown up part-time in a solar powered home and it has long seemed to me that in a place called The Sunshine State, the State of Florida government should embrace and facilitate solar power both as the major source of our energy but as an industry. Can you imagine a day when most of Florida’s energy comes from the sun? Or for that matter a day where our state is the worldwide leader in manufacturing solar equipment, panels, and batteries? Unfortunately, Florida is nowhere near where it could be, but today’s news is a step in the right direction.

And speaking of good news, in 2021 the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy concluded that the State of Florida has the most capacity for solar energy in the entire Southeast. 17 States have already committed to shifting to 100% renewable energy within the next three decades and cities here in Florida such as Orlando and Sarasota have committed to the same goal. This is what citizens of the United States want, this is what citizens of the State of Florida want and, it’s what our environment needs and deserves so today’s news certainly helps us take a step in the right direction and for that I am very, very grateful.

Photo 4-21-22, 11 03 33 AM

Thanks again to everyone who has worked so hard to make today’s announcement a reality. I can’t begin to emphasize enough how important it is that we take real action to eliminate our fossil fuel use before its too late, before more of Florida’s 1,350 miles of coastline disappear and before special places like Miami Beach, the Everglades, or the Florida Keys are lost forever.

Thank you to everyone who was involved in writing the petition, signed the petition, and to Commissioner Fried and her staff for implementing the Rule.

Happy Earth Week everyone!

The Savings & Simplicity of Solar


Great Letter to the Editor today in the Miami Herald about the savings and simplicity of having a solar power system on one’s home that I wanted to share with everyone. In my home our experience is exactly the same as the Letter’s writer, Simon Rose. Our home has solar power, a battery storage system for night time and is connected to the local utility by net solar metering. Our bill runs between $7.00 and $15.00 per month total and whether the utility is operating or not, say after a Hurricane, we always have power. It’s amazing or, as Mr. Rose says, “charging is on the house”.


For years, I’ve been asked what it is like to be a solar homeowner: Do you have to change your habits? Do you have power at night? Do you have power after a storm? The answers are simple: No. Yes. Yes.

In July 2015, we installed a solar system on the roof of our Miami home. Through net-metering, our FPL bill is a constant $9 and change per month, so our investment should be paid off after about six years. Realtors calculate an average $15,000 premium for the sale of a solar house. We recently installed a battery storage system, so when a storm hits, we’ll be able to power our house on sunshine during a grid outage. All from silent, non-toxic power.

Rooftop solar installation prices have plummeted in the last decade and now, thanks to Solar United Neighbors co-ops, the savings are greater and homeowners receive free, unbiased support throughout the entire process.

For my money, the two best investments a homeowner can make are solar panels and an electric vehicle. When you go solar and buy an electric vehicle, charging is on the house. Really!

– Simon Rose,


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