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Sunday, October 2, 2011 - 8:00pm

Advocates Look To Solar-Powered Budget

A pair of Southeast Georgia solar energy advocates has a novel idea for cash-strapped counties looking for new revenues.

A demonstration project aims to make rural Georgia rich again -- with help from the sun.

Doctors Sidney Smith of Savannah and Pat Godbey of Brunswick are launching a trust fund that collects a portion of revenues from their solar energy farm in Southeast Georgia's Bulloch County.

The fund invests in state bonds and through compounding interest eventually will be large enough to pay the county's entire budget.

Smith says, he wants solar installations in other counties to do the same thing.

"With minimal investment, these rural counties in Georgia can develop revenue streams that will last generations to come," Smith says. "I'm seeing these towns dry up. Kids move away and it's kind of sad. And we were trying to come up with some kind of mechanism where we could increase the amount of funds that are flowing back into our rural communities."

Smith admits, at the current rates, it could take hundreds of years for solar-powered investments to make counties financially independent.

The fund's first budget contribution is expected to be a few hundred dollars.

The company, Tabby Power Solar, plans to expand the fund to other areas.

It makes money by selling solar power to the state's electric grid.

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