Category Archives: Reviews

SPower’s Industrial Solar Plant in Spotsylvania, Virginia Reviewed

The Meadow Family is positioned to sell a 6,500 tract of land adjoining my subdivision to sPower where they hope to build the 5th largest solar industrial plant in the world and the largest east of the Mississippi.

This solar industrial complex will contain 1.8 million Cadmium Telluride photo voltaic panels. It will be positioned within 50 feet of some local property lines and will forever change the complexion of our semi-rural county of Spotsylvania, Virginia. And not for the better.

These are my concerns and my personal review on this project by sPower.

One

Based on research and an estimate of 4,500 acres to be used for solar generating and using Land Mark Dividend.com’s estimate of return per acre, sPower stands to generate $95,625,000 (over $96 million) to $191,250,000 (over $191 million) in profit yearly. Note this is profit not gross revenue before expenses.

Over the 30 year lifespan of the equipment this is a profit of $2,868,750,000 ($2.8 billion) to $5,737,500,000 ($5.7 billion) for sPower investors.

sPower offers (but not in writing at this time and not in the County paperwork details that were part of the County Staff review – so therefore only is a verbal declaration, $660,000 for 30 years which is $19,800,000 $19.8 million. This “proffer” is only .34% of potential profits from the highest number of $5.7 billion that sPower may be generating in profit for their investors.

If the suggested $660,000 proffer does not meet the new Virginia code in subsection C of the Act for “specifically attributable” as it is not paid for a need that was created, at least in part, by the rezoning. In other words the proffer must address a need that was created by the rezoning or it may be therefore considered illegal and then the county receives nothing.

With the extremely high profit of this project and very low investment back into the community which will be forever changed by this project, I do not personally feel that the special use permit for sPower to build this plant and change the zoning from agricultural to industrial should be approved. There is not enough financial benefit to county residents even with the perks sPower has dangled to residents in their printed and online materials. There is a lopsided positive benefit to sPower investors.

Two

Recycling of CdTe solar panels is a concern. Most documentation is about the recycling of silicone based panels and not the more hazardous and less expensive CdTe panels being used in this project.

Recycle PV appears at this time to be one of the very few US located solar panel recyclers.  Some solar panel manufacturers may offer recycling programs. For now, the industry consensus is that this is a new area and that the need for recycling cannot be met by the existing resources as panels age out.

As a result many panels are removed and stacked and some even put in landfills as the United States does not have the legislative regulation to control and mitigate environmental harm caused by the storage or disposal of aged out solar panels.

In fact, the problem is so significant that the State of Washington beginning in 2021 now requires all solar panel manufacturers selling in the state, to submit to a stewardship plan for approval to include recycling and also codifies the removal, disposal, and storage of solar panels. In Washington State, solar panels are now managed as dangerous waste. Spotsylvania County has none of these regulations.

Additionally, the decommissioning and recycling costs will likely far exceed what is expected or even estimated.

Recently, it cost the Department of Energy, $0.20/watt to encapsulate the Abound solar panel modules made by First Solar(the company which will be supplying the solar panels for the pending Spotsylvania project) in concrete due to the Cadmium. As many as 140,000 modules were encapsulated at a cost or $2.2 million.

The use of the cheaper CdTe solar panels is a health hazard that will be 30 years in the making. Although while the facility is in operation sPower says they will immediately address any broken panels, during decommissioning it is not unusual to stack panels; potentially breaking the glass seal leading to serious toxic leakage into the soil.

With recycling of solar panels not being widely done at this point, it seems shortsighted to not factor in the serious and dangerous consequences of where these panels go, how they are to be stored, and mistakes that are sure to happen in handling when being taken down.

The risk is too high and potential cleanup costs to the county unknowable predicating a NO to this Solar Power Industrial Complex.

Spotsylvania Count,y Virginia should not be a test site for sPower’s 125 LLC aggregate business eager to make a huge profit and destroy woodlands and wetlands of our beautiful rural and agriculture environment and damage our rural cultural heritage.

 

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Steer Clear of Outback Landscaping and Call Me Construction LLC

I have a sad tale to tell, but one of a cautionary note. If you are looking for a review on Charles N. Thomas of Outback Landscaping also doing business as Call Me Construction LLC, know that you should not do business with this individual for good reason.

Charles Thomas the owner of Outback Landscaping is a thief. He stole $10,000 from us and abandoned our hardscape project at 75% completion. We have had to hire a new contractor to finish the job.

This was a $50,000 project. It has now been over a year since he started. What we have to show is compacted gravel, garden walls and no pavers except under our hot tub. We don’t even have wall caps or column caps.

We cannot even finish our electrical inspection due to his inability to perform as he contracted to do so, causing a safety hazard.

We found out several months into the project that he let his contractor’s license expire, and that was just the start. Many customers are in trouble now due to this man.

One customer took him to court with a $300 per hour lawyer to get a judgement which they cannot collect as he has no money, assets, or has hidden his property as the lawyer suspects. He now has a $27,034 judgment against him from a similar situation as ours.

Virginia State Department of Regulation has revoked his contractor license on 9-11-18 and he had to pay a $4,500 fine for one problem with the project abandonment and $4,200 fine for failed project.

We are filing a complaint with the state too. We found out, however, from the AB Kearns Eagle Bay block distributor that he is continuing to buy materials and perform work for unsuspecting customers.

I have to say, based on the way he takes money from clients, promises endlessly in a believable manner, and is so very smooth in all he says and does; that he is believable until you have given him too much money and then he appears to walk the project. But only, after stringing you on with endless health and family issues that may or may not be legitimate. At this point, I trust nothing he says.

Acting in a state of fraud, is a pattern of behavior with this person. These two businesses I have mentioned by name are not the only ones he has done this with – stolen money, not completed jobs, closed down and started up under other names.

Charles Thomas needs to be in jail and we will be working with state authorities to get him there. BEWARE!

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Rebecca McCord – Virginia Tech Graduating Senior

Rebecca A. McCord, Virginia Tech Senior
Rebecca A. McCord, Virginia Tech Senior

Our very own Rebecca A. McCord is a graduating senior at Virginia Tech.  She is seeking full-time employment in the Washington D.C. region in the national defense and/or security field.

Her major is BAIS in National Security and Foreign Affairs with minors in Leadership, Russian, International Public Policy and Global Engagement.

You can see Rebecca A. McCord’s  full resume and curricula vitae on the Wix website that, by the way, she built herself.

Rebecca has been my Executive Assistant for several years. Although my firm will miss her for her exceptional qualifications and head for business, it is time for her make a difference in the world around her.

A person of unique qualifications, Rebecca A. McCord brings to the table a very strong work ethic, desire to make our country strong in the global order and global marketplace, and a desire to succeed. She speaks Russian and French. Rebecca will be graduating in May 2019 but is scheduling job interviews now for full time employment after graduation.

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SMS Scheduler Reviewed

Girl holding iPhone 6 Space Gray with service Pinterest
Use SMS Scheduler to be more productive in your day and stay in touch.

SMS Scheduler is an Android app that I am using to schedule text messages to my team and now family. You can download it yourself in the Google Play store.

First, I am not being paid for this review, I just found the app and love it.

Here’s how I am using SMS Scheduler

Create Repeat Reminder Messages for Employees

I use SMS Scheduler to create and send out messages to my team:

  • to remind them of weekly deadlines
  • to remind them of the weeks they will be paid
  • to encourage them to update TeamUp with their work status

Create Repeat Messages to Uplift My Kids

I use SMS Scheduler to create and send out messages to my kids and family.

  • send uplifting personal notes, quotes, and reminders to call
  • remind kids to check bank statements in family Google Drive
  • to let them know my personal travel schedule

Not only does the app send out messages in bulk to multiple people easily at one time, but you can set these messages up to send once, or to repeat weekly, monthly or yearly.

I just recently sent a message to all of my kids to remind them of their big brother’s birthday and to make sure to send him a Happy Birthday note.

Inside the app, I like that I can see a history of my sends and even repeat a message from the history. Personally for me, with family members, I set up weekly notes, but then once a week change them up and let them to go out on the original schedule, that way my kids don’t even know I am using an app to stay in touch with them on a regular basis.

I have even used the app to send myself text reminders of important things I need to do or see.

SMS Scheduler – an app that has become part of my productivity arsenal.

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Drift – Much More Than a Messaging App – Part Two

Continued from Wednesday.

The Drift messaging app for websites is on target with my needs.
The Drift messaging app for websites is on target with my needs.

Implementation of the Drift code on my website, to enable clients to use the app, took under five minutes, as I use header includes.

As I have tested out the application, I have found that it sends emails to the user to remind them of their appointment with you and also saves their email in the Drift application.

So, my concern with getting the prospect’s phone number in the initial conversation with the bot is moot. As the appointment approaches, I  can directly contact the client and make calling arrangements on my own. I can even communicate using the email link for appointment confirmation via the Drift app to ask for the phone number.

Drift has a mobile app which allows you to respond to website messages while you are out of the office and on the go. Talk about instant communication!

Once the appointment is scheduled by the prospect, within seconds the appointment appeared in my own Google Calendar. I was even able to select my own Google category for incoming calls so they would be marked and colored properly in my calendar.

I have to say that the Drift app has some very nice new features that I have not seen before in other calendaring or messaging apps. I do like some of the automation features and the ability to interact with prospects immediately when they really have a question while they are sitting on my website.

I do recommend that you check out the free version of Drift. At the very minimum, you will have a really nice website chat app and if you upgrade, you will get some really nice features that are unique to Drift – like the bot, team settings, and auto response functions.

 

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Drift – Much More Than a Messaging App – Part One

Nancy McCord
“Just Nancy” – My Point of View for Today.

Drift , it’s not what you would expect. This new application is much more than a simple messaging app. It is a robust website and lead generating tool you embed right in your website code.

Yes messaging and online chat is what it does, but the paid version (although pricey for the month  about $50), really puts your website to work.

First, know that their site does not work in Internet Explorer (the site will appear like a blank screen where nothing loads), but definitely works in Google Chrome.

Second, know that I am not being paid for this review. I just like the app and am interested in using it for my own website. The team at Drift asked me to look at their app as I am a user of Calendly and have written about that app before on my blog.

You can check out my online Drift profile.

You can check out my Drift online scheduling app.

View Drift in action on my website.

Here’s what I like about Drift – (I am using the free version.)

It is relatively easy to use. I did full customization of my Drift account, messages, and profiles in about 30 to 40 minutes. I was able to add my bio, image, social media profiles and company information. It was not hard and they have some really nice tutorials you can watch on YouTube.

I was able to customize the apps colors to match my website. You are offered font colors and even font styles to help you make it match your website.

I was able to customize most of the messages that clients see. Not only could I choose what the chat bubbles would say when I was online and offline, but I could select the days and hours to be available. The paid version will match your availability of your Google Calendar and does have other very nice features.

They have a very neat bot that helps to book your online appointments. I thought that was actually very cool. I wished that the free service had at least one or two options to customize bot messages, like when scheduling an appointment making sure to ask for the prospect for their phone number.

Now the paid version has a robust use of the bot and I can think of many uses for that feature. If you are running an ecommerce store you can preload FAQ’s for the bot to answer to help users and save your team time. That is very cool!

Check back on Wednesday for more of my candid thoughts and review on Drift.

 

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