Scary Stuff Blocking Solar in the Sunshine State

Susan Glickman | October 28, 2015 | Climate Change, Elections, Energy Policy, Fossil Gas, Solar
Source: Flikr Creative Commons

I am constantly amazed at how low Florida’s monopoly utilities are willing to go to protect their right to pollute and keep their captive customers.  Frankly, it’s scary and that seems very appropriate given Halloween is upon us.

It’s scary that Florida – the Sunshine State – gets only about 1/10 of 1 percent of the state’s energy needs met with solar. Yet these big monopolies work like crazy to gut energy efficiency, build power plants, pipelines, transmission lines and are investing in risky fracking operations.

The emissions from these operations are scarier than any creepy Halloween costume or ghost story. The irreversible effects of climate change are underway. Counties in South Florida are now planning for up to 2 feet of sea level rise by 2060. That’s another foot of sea level rise just in the next 15 years.  Now that’s frightening!

Meanwhile on the solutions side, there is a promising citizen-driven initiative called Floridians for Solar Choice to open up the sale of electricity by third parties. Florida is one of only 4 states that prohibits this.

So what are the big power companies doing? They have formed a front group they cynically call Consumers for Smart Solar. There are no consumers involved and Former Vice President Al Gore called out the utilities on his recent trip to Miami for using profits from customers to confuse people.

The former Vice President endorsed the Solar Choice amendment with the warning, “Just remember: the phony one calling itself ‘smart’ is actually dumb. Floridians for Solar Choice is the choice you want to make.”

So here is the latest salvo as reported by Jeremy Wallace from the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Capital Bureau in his recent article, Mystery surrounds largest donor to rival solar power ballot initiativeThe monopoly utilities have trotted out yet another front group called Let’s Preserve the American Dream – a political committee affiliated with Associated Industries of Florida. The power companies want you to believe there are a bunch of groups in the fight but in reality, it’s all funded by the monopoly utilities propping up a score of allied organizations. Associated Industries – headed by former Speaker of the House Tom Feeney – has a long history of doing the dirty work of special interests that want to remain in the background.

Climate change is frightening and it’s scary the length that utilities and the fossil fuel industries will go to in an effort to keep business as usual.

Have a Happy Halloween but don’t be fooled, there is no treat in this trick!


Susan Glickman
This blog was written by a former staff member of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
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