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Deppe reports: "Florida right-wing state regulators launched an attack against solar energy on Nov. 25, when they approved proposals to slash the state's energy efficiency goals by over 90 percent and terminate solar rebate programs by the end of 2015."

(photo: file)
(photo: file)


GOP Kills Florida Solar, Takes the Sun out of Sunshine State

By Blake Deppe, People's World

05 December 14

 

lorida right-wing state regulators launched an attack against solar energy on Nov. 25, when they approved proposals to slash the state's energy efficiency goals by over 90 percent and terminate solar rebate programs by the end of 2015. This was done in order to appease investor-owned utilities that contribute to climate change, including Duke Energy, Tampa Electric, and Florida Power & Light (FPL) - the three companies that submitted the proposal.

The decision came after two hours of debate, with members of the state Public Service Commission (PSC) voting 3-2 in favor of the plan. The two commissioners who gave a "No" vote were Lisa Edgar and Julie Brown, who said that they would not agree with a plan that altered state energy policy so severely. "It's not the direction I would go in," Edgar remarked.

Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), which stood in opposition to the utility proposals, said this was "completely inconsistent with what the other states are doing. We believe there may have been laws broken today by not setting goals." In other words, he underscored the need for utilities, under law, to have some policy for meeting energy efficiency requirements. "It's a very sad day for the state of Florida," he concluded.

What this means is that the Sunshine State, which has been called "ground zero for climate change" by some environmental experts, will see less clean energy projects and further development of utilities that promote the use of fossil fuels. The state PSC approved Duke Energy for a $1.5 billion natural gas plant that will replace a disused nuclear plant in Crystal River, Florida. Duke, along with the other two companies, insisted during their proposals that solar rebate programs are not cost-effective, and argued that they would furthermore reduce rates for customers starting Jan. 1. That "reduction" is a meager 16 cents for Duke ratepayers, $1.14 for Tampa Electric, and $1.94 for FPL. And most of those savings, reported the Tampa Bay Times, are the result of lower fuel prices, which are beyond the utilities' control anyway.

"Today, the PSC failed Florida families by caving to big polluters," said Kelly Martin, senior representative of the Florida Sierra Club. "Florida already ranks in the bottom half of the nation for energy efficiency, and now will only fall farther behind, costing families and businesses in the process."

Back in October, Florida residents and environmentalists took to the streets in St. Petersburg to vocally oppose the proposals of these utilities, rallying outside Duke Energy's office and calling for the state to embrace solar energy. The demonstration drew an estimated 150-200 people and was organized by SACE, whose executive director Smith added, "We've seen that [Republican state governor] Rick Scott's administration has done nothing to support solar power. The Public Service Commission under his watch has been very hostile and critical of solar power."

Scott, who this year won re-election against Democrat Charlie Crist, is a notorious climate change denier, and according to Reuters "supported utility rate hikes to cover massive investments in new power lines, natural gas pipelines, and nuclear power plants that environmentalists oppose, while the state's renewable energy programs, including solar installation rebates, were dismantled." According to Grist.org, Scott also rejected federal stimulus dollars to build a high-speed rail line in the state, which is badly lacking public transportation.

Republicans and big corporations, as per the usual, are inhibiting a state's ability to gravitate toward clean energy at a time when it has never been more important. Experts agree that amongst the U.S. states most vulnerable to climate change, Florida is at the top of the list. Harold Wanless, chair of the University of Miami's geological sciences department, said that global warming could render the city of Miami "the American Atlantis" by the end of the century, when the area is expected to be entirely underwater. "Miami is doomed," he declared. "Flooding everywhere, pooling in streets, flooding parking lots, turning intersections into submarine crossings - that is what global warming will look like."

Meanwhile, said Smith, when it comes to pro-fossil fuel companies in Florida, "nobody's holding these guys accountable. We have had a breakdown in regulatory oversight." And the line between the Public Service Commission "and the monopoly utilities they are charged with regulating is becoming increasingly blurred." In an official statement, SACE added that the PSC's vote represented "an abdication of its responsibility as steward for energy consumers. We as an organization are going to try and find every outlet possible to continue to fight."

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+35 # indian weaver 2014-12-05 09:53
Rick Scott's existence is a dire, survival threat to everything alive, and the planet herself. He is a mortal enemy to mankind, and has to be viewed and treated as such. Sadly, he's only one of millions of these threats to our lives that has power and misuses it to his own pecuniary advantage, the typical politician, the really evil breed of animal on the planet.
 
 
+4 # wrknight 2014-12-06 13:51
In addition, he is a waste of oxygen and a useless contributor to greenhouse gases.
 
 
0 # Corvette-Bob 2015-01-04 17:29
My question, and I am a liberal, why do people elect him? Do people want him to destroy everything? Does he believe people should be punished for their evil ways or what?
 
 
+30 # pwehrle 2014-12-05 11:04
Well put..he, like George Bush and Dick Cheney, is the face of pure evil and what the average uninformed American voter gets when voting consistently and happily against their(and our) own best interests.
 
 
+20 # Regina 2014-12-05 11:24
Wheeeee! Here we go, hell-bent backwards toward the glorious 1850s. That'll show them dang pergressives!
 
 
+26 # fredboy 2014-12-05 12:08
Florida is one of the weirdest states in the union. Like so many false Christians who talk the talk but do not walk the walk, Florida's Repugs claim to be pro-business yet are destroying the state's future business vitality.

It's energy programs are appalling. And the entire state's coastal system--especia lly in the Southwest--is a bacterial cesspool fueled by 24/7 fertilizer runoff from the state's lawns and golf courses. Thus the tourism and sports fishing industries are doomed.

We need visionary thinking, not short-term profiteering.
 
 
+3 # wrknight 2014-12-06 13:52
Second only to Texas. (Or maybe it's vice versa.)
 
 
+10 # Rockster 2014-12-05 12:50
Wishing I was a cartoonist; Governor Scott holding an American flag in one hand( upside down) in his other hand a Confederate battle flag waves bravely . He is tied to a flagpole in front of Miami City Hall with thousands of yellow ribbons from the orphans of Florida servicemen and women KIA. The waves of the large hurricane brewing in the polluted , but very warm, waters between the Keys and Cuba are beginning to build around his knees and he is all alone.
 
 
+22 # walt 2014-12-05 13:04
Florida has long been known for its corrupt politicians and this is proof. Legislators are owned outright by the utility lobbies as well as real estate.

FL even elected and reelected Governor Rick Scott who was CEO of Columbia HCO when it was found guilty of felonies for defrauding health care plans. He even pled the fifth amendment and walked free.

And never forget the infamous 2000 election when old Jeb Bush threw that election to his war criminal bother W although Al Gore really won!

Right wing crackers, racists, and evangelicals seem to dominate politics here along with the money of corrupt corporate lobbyists.

So much from the "Sunshine State" that wants to impede solar power!
 
 
+11 # CAMUS1111 2014-12-05 21:32
But remember--Chris Matthews says former Florida Gov.Jeb Bush is a "moderate." The gop'ers are neo-fascist extremists one and all, regardless of whatever state they haunt. They are a scourge on this nation and humanity itself.
 
 
+13 # Regina 2014-12-05 23:21
Chris Matthews should know better. Relative to (e.g.) Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush appears "moderate." Relative to what this country needs in the White House, Jeb is as extreme as the rest of his political ilk.
 
 
+2 # CAMUS1111 2014-12-06 09:03
Chris Matthews hasn't known better in years!
 
 
+8 # Elroys 2014-12-06 12:04
Florida is already going under water - they are simply racing towards the abyss faster than anyone else. Captain Scott is clearly in charge of the Titanic, ordering his crew and passengers to rearrange the deck chairs. This is clearly what the insane would do.
 
 
+5 # bckrd1 2014-12-06 16:41
I emailed Rick the Dick and I was not nice.
 
 
+1 # ptalady 2014-12-08 02:21
One thing that is so maddening about this is that it is not as though Florida can make its own stink and then sink in it -- global warming has global effects, so Florida's pollution is melting Alaska's glaciers.... So frustrating to have to just accept crap like this, and nothing to be done about it. Maybe there is something though -- maybe the federal EPA can overrule?
 
 
0 # Corvette-Bob 2015-01-04 17:34
It is my opinion that the war to maintain the environment has been lost. 2014 went down as the hottest year since records have been kept. Fairbank Alaska did not have a single day in 2014 with a temperature lower than zero. The first time since records have been kept. The good news is that I am 70 years old and will be dead when the effects will be causing upheaval in the world.
 

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