New Solar Facility in Elkmont, Alabama's Cities Rank Most "In Need"

Dec 21, 2015

A solar panel park large enough to power 50 homes a day is being built in Alabama. APR’s Stan Ingold reports it is being built by a private company that will sell the electricity generated at the site to Tennessee Valley Authority.

Spokesman Steven Pitts for contractor ACE LLC Solar tells The Decatur Daily that the Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based PJ Kraft Enterprises is developing the $690,000 solar energy-producing system. They are using nearly an acre of land in Elkmont, Ala. PJ Kraft is a company that invests in renewable energy projects.

ACE LLC, of Pulaski, Tenn. designed the solar panel system and is building it. Pitts says construction on the solar panel system started in November, and it is expected to be online next month.

TVA serves 9 million people in parts of Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

With Christmas just around the corner, a new study has some disquieting news on people in need in Alabama.

The online finance site WalletHub ranked the 150 most populous U.S. cities in terms of issues like poverty and food insecurity. Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, and Birmingham all ranked among the worst in the country.

WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez says Birmingham’s child poverty rate is as bad as in Detroit and Cleveland.

“49.2% of all children there are living below the poverty line. Almost half of all children there. When you’re looking at adults, it’s almost a quarter. And those two metrics really, really were down here near 150, which is the last city that we looked at.”

Unemployment and homelessness were other issues in the study. Birmingham ranked 142 out of the top 150 cities for people in need. Mobile was 128, Montgomery was 123. Huntsville scored best in Alabama at 106.

The campaign to bring casino gambling to Alabama has lost its highest profile advocate in the state legislature.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says he won't be sponsoring casino legislation in the upcoming session.

Marsh says he doesn't think the votes are there for his casino proposal, so he will move on to other business. The Republican Senate leader had hoped that lawmakers would consider casinos because of the potential revenue they would provide for the state.

Chip Hill is the executive director of the Alabama Jobs Foundation, an organization supporting the casino legislation. He says his group believes the gambling proposal is the only viable option for providing long-term revenue to the state.

Hill says a decision will be made at the first of the year to determine how the organization will proceed.

Alabama’s state spending records are back online after being unavailable for more than two months.

Governor Robert Bentley says spending records at open.alabama.gov are once again available for viewing.

The state started the spending website so Alabamians could see how their state agencies were spending money. Bentley called the site an important transparency tool.

The state checkbook portion of the site had been down since October because of a technology upgrade. The switch to the new accounting program also delayed payments to thousands of state vendors.