Foundation Highlights Solar Energy and Sunshine Week
Atlanta – Two years ago this week, Dublin High School in Laurens County broke ground on a solar panel array that was described as a trailblazer funding model and a moneysaver for the school. As she gathered information for an article marking the March 11 anniversary of the groundbreaking, Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd gained a renewed appreciation for Sunshine Week, the annual celebration of the national initiative for open government and freedom of information that takes place next week (March 15-21).
What started out as a commentary on Sunshine Week and the solar project’s anniversary led to a trail of lofty projections, broken promises, unpaid bills, questionable math and taxpayers left on the hook.
Dodd’s research, which began on the Internet, led her to the Georgia Public Service Commission, to Middle Georgia and to her first Open Records Act request on behalf of the Foundation in order to access progress reports on grants at the Department of Community Affairs.
Along the way, she found not every local government prioritizes transparency and the need to be accountable to citizens and taxpayers. The Laurens County’s court Web site, for example, had not been updated since November 2007.
“Nearly everyone was willing and happy to share the information,” Dodd said, “but the Foundation is also fortunate to have access to policymakers. Every Georgia citizen should be able to access the information without wondering who they need to reach out to, and the Web should be a universal starting point.”
Dodd’s report, “As Sunshine Week Approaches, Cloud Hangs over Solar Financing in Georgia,” can be accessed at http://www.georgiapolicy.org/?
“We are not journalists, and our Foundation’s resources are limited,” said Kelly McCutchen, president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, “but there are numerous media outlets that trumpeted the groundbreaking. Why have they chosen not to report the clouds over the solar project?”
“The need for sunshine is doubly apparent when the media appear to be selective in what they’ll report to taxpayers. There are lessons to be learned across the state from projects such as these. Policy-makers and taxpayers deserve to know.”
About the Georgia Public Policy Foundation: Established in 1991, the Foundation is an independent, state-focused think tank that proposes market-oriented approaches to public policy to improve the lives of Georgians. Visit our Web site at georgiapolicy.org
Thank you for the great work that the Public Policy Foundation is doing across our state setting a wonderful example. I first ran for the Senate in 1994, and the Foundation was that resource I called upon to be a great help to me as we were articulating positions and formulating public policy initiatives. We appreciate very much your leadership and all that you stand for.