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Solar farm establishes energy trust
Trust fund invests in county
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In the shadows of solar panels, Tabby Power co-founder Sidney Smith answers questions from the community about the solar farm near Pembroke and about the creation of the Georgia Energy Trust Fund Friday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

On a secluded patch of land in eastern Bulloch County, in shadows created by rows of solar panels, a pair of area doctors hosted a commencement ceremony for a project they hope changes the financial future of Georgia.
Friday, at their 26-acre solar farm near the Bulloch/Bryan County line, Sidney Smith and Pat Godbey, co-owners of the Tabby Power Solar Company, celebrated the kick-off of the Georgia Energy Trust Fund.
The brainchild of Smith, a Savannah dermatologist, and Godbey, a Brunswick pathologist, the Georgia Energy Trust Fund will continuously draw a portion of Tabby Power’s proceeds to be invested for the trust’s participating counties.
Smith and Godbey will donate 1.5% of the gross receipts from their solar systems – the energy produced is sold to Georgia Power – to be invested in Georgia Bonds for participating counties. 
According to Smith, the counties will receive annually half of the earned interest, while the balance is reinvested. Eventually, with reinvestment and annual contributions, the two men hope entire county budgets can be paid by the first-of-its-kind trust fund.
At Friday’s ceremony, Bulloch County became the first region to join the new project. 
“We’re here to let all Georgians, the country and world know that Bulloch County has started on the road to financial independence today,” said Smith, speaking to group of county officials and investors. “Our goal is simple: Bulloch County will be self-sustaining without any federal, state, personal or property tax revenue. Our goal will be a lengthy journey that takes many generations to accomplish, but success is not in question.”
Using initial projections – as the solar farm grows, additional moneys are invested and the target date moves closer – the lofty goal would see Bulloch County as a completely financially independent entity in about 350 years, said Smith.
“It may take us a little while, but we are on the way,” he said. “On average we put in about one nickel per hour. If you add that up every single hour from now until eternity, Bulloch County will have more wealth than any other county in Georgia and the country. It is just a matter of time until is completely funded. If we can save just a few pennies, we can change the future that our kids experience.”
Currently, just one acre of the Bulloch farm has been developed. With additional panels providing more power, the county would reap a larger investment.
About 15 more panels are planned to be erected soon, said Smith. The farm also leases space on its land for panels to serve private and commercial clients.
“This is to benefit South Georgia,” said Godbey, about the trust. “We want to inject the funds back into the local economy. Simply put, we think it is the right thing to do.”
“We are very excited and pleased that Bulloch County is a beneficiary of this trust, and that some day the trust can generate enough revenue so that we can give our tax-payers some relief,” said Garrett Nevil, Chairman of the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners. “This will not only benefit the citizens of Bulloch County, but the state and nation as well. It is going to be exciting to watch.”
Friday, Smith and Godbey presented an initial $5,000 donation to the trust.
The two men hope every county in Georgia will eventually join the project.
Plans are in the works to expand the program to Chatham, Bryan and Chattooga counties, said Smith.

Jeff Harrison can be reached at 912-489-9454

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