Charlie Crist Courts Green Florida Votes, Fails to Mention Green Costs

By: William Patrick FloridaWatchdog.org | Posted: April 26, 2014 3:55 AM
Charlie Crist

Charlie Crist

Call it a green energy pledge for greenbacks.

Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist has vowed to use his future authority as governor to impose renewable energy standards similar to the 20 percent mandate he championed when last serving as Florida’s chief executive.

That much Crist made clear at a recent solar energy rally at the Florida Capitol. The event was sponsored by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

“Right now we’re not utilizing the sunshine the way we need to,” Crist said. “God gives it to us. It comes up every morning.”

The former and potential two-time governor didn’t mention how he proposes to pay for clean energy.

The trade-off would include higher consumer prices and government subsidies, said Marita Noon, executive director of Energy Makes America Great Inc.

“It sounds good to have free energy from the sun, but in reality it raises rates which, of course, hurts people who can least afford it,” Noon told Watchdog.org.

Noon met with several state lawmakers Tuesday to explain the costs and benefits of solar energy and other renewable resources.

“It’s feasible to get to 20 percent renewables,” she said. “It’s just going to take 20 to 25 years and raise everyone’s utility prices. … If that’s what Floridians want, then so be it. But let’s be honest about it.”

Noon, who works in association with the Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy, said she supports solar energy, but opposes government mandates and the subsidies that often accompany them.

“Individuals have every right to use solar energy, but they shouldn’t be forced to do it,” she said.

Over two dozen states have enacted renewable mandates and solar advocates point to sunny Florida as a natural solar state.

The Southern Energy Network, which partnered with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy to host Crist at the Capitol, blames utility companies for the Legislature’s lack of green commitments.

“Florida is home to the country’s largest and dirtiest electric utilities — Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light. These corporations generate massive profits from the expansion of fossil fuels and nuclear power — dirty energy that threatens the health of Florida communities through pollution and climate change,” states an online rally flyer.

The rise of cheap natural gas along with stories of green energy cronyism, such as the $500 million hit taxpayers took from the Solyndra solar company, have left many Floridians skeptical of green energy.

Crist and renewable energy supporters are trying to focus on the positives.

“I met with a guy not long ago named Elon Musk,” said Crist. “He developed Tesla cars and a company called Solar City, one of the largest solar energy companies in North America, and he said, ‘Charlie, you guys ought to be the global example of solar energy on the planet. You’re the Sunshine State,’” said Crist.

But a Watchdog.org investigation revealed Solar City may not be the best energy solution for taxpayers.

SolarCity, a California-based solar energy firm backed by hundreds of millions in federal grants and loans, posted $55 million in losses during 2013 and is running a deficit of more than $166 million, according to a recently released annual financial report,” reported Eric Boehm and Tori Richards.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, only three other states have cheaper per capita energy costs than Florida. The EIA also states Florida generated 2.2 percent of its total energy from renewables in 2013.

Most of the state’s energy was generated by natural gas, which Noon said is the dirty secret of solar energy.

“Renewables like wind and solar are dependent on natural gas because it’s the back-up fuel for when it’s not windy or sunny,” Noon said.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit that claims to be nonpartisan. According to an Internal Revenue Service Form 990, the group’s total 2012 revenue exceeded $3.2 million.

IRS rules prohibit 501(c)3 charitable organizations from “participat(ing) in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”

At the rally, Crist encouraged the crowd of roughly 300 to organize and get out the vote.

Contact William Patrick at wpatrick@watchdog.org.


Tags: News, Politics

Comments (3)

7:08AM APR 28TH 2014
"Noon, who works in association with the Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy, said she supports solar energy, but opposes government mandates and the subsidies that often accompany them."

LOL Yet not a peep about ending the subsidies to coal, nuclear, and oil. So hypocritical.

(It really is too funny. The government gets swindled out of $500 million by a solar company and they act like that should be the end of any investment in solar. Yet, the government spends $425 million settling the cancer claims of a community caused by uranium mining to supply nuclear energy, among other ways the taxpayers have had to ante up over the years for the nuclear industry and they still support government backed loans and other subsidies for nuclear energy. Even in this age of a whole Dept. of Homeland security because of acts of terrorism. Coal- geez, taxpayers have invested billions in that and yet it still can't live up to its advertising campaign that it's clean. And let's hope we don't find out we're also subsidizing natural gas by rendering water off limits or very expensive to clean up enough to re-use. Among other things.)

But I have an idea. End the subsidies for all energy so wind and solar can compete fairly. Then we'll see.

And how about letting electric customers choose where the portion of their energy bill collected to construct new power plants gets spent? For instance, Duke Energy or FPL collects a billion dollars let the people it was collected from decide if they want to spend that on building a new coal, nuclear, or natural gas powered plant, or divvy it up to homeowners to put solar on their rooftops instead.

Me, I go for the rooftop solar. Even if it only supplied half the energy a homeowner needed. I can imagine how much better off our economy would be if half the people were able to keep half of what they spend on electric to spend in the local economy rather than Duke or FPL using it to burn more of our finite resources and send the profits to sit in the bank accounts of remote investors around the country or world.
5:30PM MAY 8TH 2014
FPL and Duke (you know, the power corp. with a failed Crystal River nuke plant and failed plan to build another in Levy County for which they collected million$ from their ratepayers, sorry no refund! are scheming to position themselves to make billions piping natural gas through FL, to tankers for shipment of a million cubic whatevers daily to overseas customers; all of the $3B it will cost to build this UNNEEDED third LNG pipeline in FL will be paid by FPL customers, on their monthly bills. No benefit will accrue to any Floridian,regardless of the propaganda they are spreading 24/7! Progress Energy threw every customer under the bus when they sold out to a NC corporation that is a TERRIBLE polluter of natural resources in NC. None of us consumers should support any new infrastructure for dirty fossil fuels in FL! This LNG is fracked out of the ground using toxic chemicals and tons of our scarce water to mine it! Say no to this poisonous process and tell your elected officials NO Keystone XL pipeline to enrich Canadian corporations in violation of our eminent domain laws that forbid its use to benefit foreign countries!
6:06AM APR 28TH 2014

Leave a Comment on This Story

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.