Solar Power of Mississippi
My company, Solar Power of Mississippi, supplies photovoltaic panels -- which convert sunlight into electricity -- to individuals, businesses and governments. We also have a research division that's trying to improve solar panel efficiency, and we're starting a manufacturing arm.
There is a lot of interest in what we're doing on a local level. People in the city, especially homeowners, are eager to do business with us. They're receptive, just uninformed. We have to show them the benefits of renewable technologies, how they increase the value of a house and pay for themselves over time.
We also have to educate our city government. There are lots of federal and state funds that help pay for solar installations, but most elected officials aren't aware of them.
Occasionally we get resistance from some older business owners who aren't interested in doing things the new way. A lot of that depends on your connections. If you're not aligned with the right people, then you might be viewed as an outsider, trying to take over.
Other places, like Louisiana, are further along than Mississippi in promoting renewable energy. But I'm from Jackson, and I'm a stubborn, local guy. I believe that Mississippi is a prime location. We're centrally located, six hours from Atlanta or Dallas and three hours from New Orleans or Memphis. Most of the renewable energy products that come into the United States come through the Port of Pascagoula, a few hours away. Jackson has all the components to be a Silicon Valley of renewable energy. -Ward Schaefer
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