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Monday, March 21, 2011 - 10:20am

Plan Could Save Weather Stations

There’s hope a funding plan might soon be in-place to keep a network of weather monitoring stations running across Georgia. It involves bringing all interested parties together to pay their fair share.

The University of Georgia maintains the network of more than 80 stations, and is trying to round-up the annual $300,000 needed. The weather stations produce data critical to everyone connected to agriculture in the state.

Scott Angle says promises of chipping-in money for the network have been coming in from farmer and commodity groups. But the dean of UGA’s Agriculture and Enviromental Sciences College says he’s not yet heard from Georgia’s power companies, who are one of the biggest users of the information.

"They’ve always been paying small amounts, but it was a lot less than their proportional share. We’re asking them to make sure they pay for their proportional share.”

Angle says power companies probably get millions of dollars in savings from weather station information. He stresses he expects they'll contribute, but UGA officials simply haven't connected with the proper people yet.

The weather station network’s funding is drying-up because a key UGA faculty member who oversaw grant funding for the network left the school.

Angle says going forward, the model for funding the weather network might have to include making its website, currently free, becoming pay-for access.

“This is something that need to be paid-for by the users, not by government. I see it all working out, it’s just a matter of putting all the pieces together at this point.”

Originally set to shut-down by mid-April, Angle says money from the state and other parties has bought another two months of time for the system.