Solar panels will shine light on King, Sibley Mills

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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, June 5, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Things are looking bright for expansion plans at King and Sibley mills. Commissioners say a new solar farm will help pay for the $300,000 they've just approved to research the GRU proposal.

One Augusta commissioner has cast a shadow of doubt on the project.

"I don't think building dormitory space for 6,000 students is the answer," said Commissioner Bill Fennoy.

Fennoy was the only Augusta commissioner who voted against spending $300,000 for research into GRU expanding at King and Sibley mills.

"Have you ridden through District 1 where grass is really high? They have dilapidated houses everywhere," Fennoy said.

He says the money could be used better, while others disagree.

"I feel like we're going to receive so much more back into the community. This is still in the beginning phases. I'm excited we're moving forward," said Commissioner Mary Davis.

The mills will be put to use soon. Solar panels are going in and that energy will be sold to Georgia Power. All money collected will go toward paying for GRU plans.

"Panisolar will pay us the rent. Georgia Power will pay them to buy the power. Private investors will give Panisolar the money to build the facility," said ARC Executive Director Mathew Kwapinetz.

Kwapinetz came up with the bright idea. He's overseeing the research and development.

Kwapinetz says this solar farm will keep your tax dollars away from this project.

"It's the way we're going to do the whole Mills project. Tax money will not be spent. We are generating all this on site," Kwapinetz said.

Even though GRU Augusta is yet to commit to the property, we're told other companies are showing interest. Commissioners say they hope to close the deal before the sun sets on the project.

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