Columns

Charlie Crist's Hyperbolicious Solar Flair

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: April 28, 2014 3:55 AM
I Beg to Differ

Charlie Crist can't stop telling his audience what they want to hear, even when it's so full of baloney he should pass out napkins first.

He's done it on everything from education to cuts in Medicare Advantage, to the most recent hyperbolicious humbug, the promise "to clean up Florida by going more solar" and to make the Sunshine State "the global example of solar energy on the planet."

(Click on this YouTube video, produced in Tallahassee at an April 10 event on behalf of the solar-energy industry.)

It's what Charlie means when he says he's "for the people:" You tell me what you want, I'll promise to deliver.

Unfortunately, there's always -- really, it is always -- a yawning credibility gap, because it never comes with an explanation of how he's going to make it work.

Crist has quite a flair for solar speeches ... well, this one, anyway ... and that's what makes it particularly bothersome. He had his knuckles rapped for making the same errant speech late last year.

Appearing on MSNBC’s "The Ed Show," gubernatorial candidate Crist -- a new Democrat running to get back the job he had as a Republican -- said, “We’re the Sunshine State, and we’re hardly doing any solar energy production. We should be the global leader in solar energy.”

PolitiFact Florida, an arm of the liberal Tampa Bay Times, which claims to give voters an assessment on the honesty of politicians, decided to “fact check” Crist’s seemingly subjective policy assessment. Unsurprisingly, it gave his statement a "mostly true" rating for saying Florida is “hardly doing any solar energy production.”

But, right after, along came Media Trackers, a conservative website dedicated to media accountability, government transparency, and fact-based journalism, to take a closer look. Its review of the facts gives Crist and PolitiFact Florida jointly a “pants on fire” -- a liar's rating -- for Crist’s claim and PolitiFact Florida’s ruling.

This all happened last December. Since then, Crist has been presented with no end of expert information -- the good, the bad and the ugly -- on renewable energy reality in Florida.

Either he isn't listening, or he's pandering for votes. I'm going with pandering.

In the first place, the sun doesn't come up "every single day" in Florida, as Crist purports. Turns out Florida is "the Sunshine State" for the same reason six different towns in coastal Florida call themselves "the Sailfish Capital." Can you think of better advertising for a tourist state?

But the truth is, Florida doesn't have the solar potential PolitiFact claims: It's not third in sunshine nationally, it's tied for ninth with Utah and Kansas. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory makes us "above average but not outstanding," claiming we spend 66 percent of our days in sunshine, as compared, say, to the 86 percent of sunny days Arizonans enjoy. So, no, Florida shouldn't be "the global leader in solar energy."

Worst of all is Crist's mischaracterization of present-day Florida as a state doing nothing to further solar energy for the future. Florida has a $100 million tax subsidy program -- we give money back to electricity customers -- for installing solar and clean-energy upgrades. According to the NREL and Optimal Deployment of Solar rankings for solar power potential, Florida is producing proportionally more solar power than it should be.

In his Tallahassee speech, Crist quoted Elon Musk, developer of the Tesla car and SolarCity, as if Musk is the solar success story Florida should emulate. But to many, he is a poor role model. Musk's California-based solar energy firm SolarCity, backed by hundreds of millions in federal grants and loans, posted $55 million in losses during 2013 and it's running a deficit of more than $166 million, according to an annual financial report released in March.

Some Floridians see SolarCity and think about the $500 million hit taxpayers took from the Solyndra solar company. Green energy is still trying to overcome that sour taste.

Encouraging solar is, as Charlie Crist claims, an important part of Florida's renewable energy future. But in a state where right now high-electricity-production solar energy costs 30 cents per kilowatt, and the per-kw cost of biomass is only 7 cents -- achieving a 20 percent conversion to renewable energy will take higher consumer prices and far greater subsidies.

If Crist wins in November, watch him back away from his solar promise. The same ratepayers cheering for his speech today would be going for his throat tomorrow when the cost of electricity skyrockets. And he knows it.



Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-242.


Comments (21)

Mark
11:59AM APR 29TH 2014
Our problem today is we have two candidates who lie, mostly all the time and the sift headed voters who will believe what lies are told, passed on, or preached about on radio and TV. We lost a great chance with Alex Sink so now she'll go to Washington and get gobbled up with all the others who would like to do good rather than suck down the benefits like those in Tallahassee (on both sides of the aisle) do.
Gen X
8:22AM APR 29TH 2014
Are you seriously quoting media trackers as a legitimate news source. YGTBFKM.
Those who pander to the Monopolistic Utilities and prevent competition for solar energy in this state will see their political futures wither. A recent survey showed almost 80% bipartisan support of Floridians for expansion of solar. Solar energy on homes makes the grid more secure by diversifying energy sources, it makes our State that relies on Tourism cleaner, and creates cheaper energy for those who employ them.
Bashing of solar will only get you bloody knuckles from dragging them on the floor.
W.E."Ted" Guy, Jr.
10:20PM APR 28TH 2014
Nancy, tell me why Charlie Crist wouldn't be better for the Everglades and the environment including the estuaries than Rick Scott has been.
Don't we need his proposed sugar land purchase to use for a flow way?
Have you abandoned Martin County?
Nancy Smith
1:22PM APR 29TH 2014
Simple: I can base the answer in fact, by looking at their records, rather than assuming a hypothetical. The largest component of CERP -- the A-1 reservoir -- was under way when Charlie Crist completely stopped its construction in order to "buy" U.S. Sugar's land. The result? Hundreds of millions of dollars that had been spent on construction costs went down the drain. U.S. Sugar continues to farm that sugar cane land today. And, the reservoir sat idle for years when it could have been receiving lake water that instead had to be released to tide through the estuary. Under Rick Scott's administration, construction has resumed on the A-1 as part of Restoration Strategies. On Scott's watch, the state passed a nearly $900 million plan for the Everglades that has annual funding guaranteed. I've written about this plenty of times, Ted. Unfortunately, this format doesn't allow me to provide links, but if you like, I can send a reading list to your email. I'm sure you know I haven't abandoned Martin County.
Mike
5:48PM APR 28TH 2014
As a person who actually works in the solar industry, it is easy to identify that the author knew nothing about solar before she set out to prove her point. A classic example of an ignorant ranter who searches for data to prove her theory, as opposed to an intelligent journalist who draws conclusions after research.
Rob
8:16PM APR 28TH 2014
As someone who has attended the Florida Energy Summit with Nancy for three years in a row, I can tell you she understands the subject completely.
Ralph
3:33PM APR 28TH 2014
Thanks Robert Reich for a timely post:
"The Koch brothers, whose $100 billion fortune is centered on petrochemicals, have been pushing state legislatures to impose a surtax on homeowners with solar panels who sell power they don’t need back to electric utilities, and to repeal state targets for renewable sources of energy like solar and wind. Koch-financed ads claim solar expansion will hurt consumers. The truth is just the reverse: Solar is becoming competitive with fossil fuels, which is why the Kochs and other polluters are so threatened by it. "
William
12:51PM APR 28TH 2014
"...so full of baloney he should pass out napkins first." That's hilarious! (and like many politicians, Mr. Crist knows that invoking "green" energy just automatically generates a positive reaction. Al Gore's been "working" that one to death for years - but oddly, he didn't win the election.)
Ralph
7:04AM APR 28TH 2014
Good grief! A vision for Florida to be the global leader in solar-generated power does not require us to have the most sunny days! It requires our percentage of clean (non-petro, non-nuclear) to be the highest. All your effort researching the Farmer's Almanac for what states have the most sunny days is pointless.

Today solar costs might be perceived higher, but the point is - it's getting lower as does anything as it gets traction and used by the masses. In fact, the only thing we are sure of is this: the greater the demand for non-renewable power sources becomes, the MORE expensive it's future price will be. What's more, we only like to think about kilowatt hours or the price st the pump, but the costs to the gulf from drilling disasters, threat of nuclear catastrophes like Japan or Chernobyl are incalculable.

When Crist retakes the governorship, we need to hold his feet to the fire to make good on his vision for Florida.

Who knows? We might need a new state slogan: Florida, the solar state!
LDouglas
3:28PM APR 28TH 2014
Great post Ralph!
Joel
8:52AM APR 28TH 2014
Good grief, you believe him! Go back to sleep, Ralph.
Ralph
9:08AM APR 28TH 2014
Joel - who said I believe him? It is a vision I can get behind though. Better than the tired old 'drill baby, drill', 'Water-boarding is how I'd baptize terrorists', 50+ impotent attempts to repeal ACA attempts the GOP offers. Stay asleep, Joel! We'll wake you if we have to evacuate the state due to toxic waste from another BP spill or God-forbid a Turkey Point meltdown.
Repubtallygirl
9:16AM APR 28TH 2014
And you drive what? Or do you stand by your 'green energy' and refuse to use oil. So, you don't drive a car, you don't fly...or use any of these products.

One 42-gallon barrel of oil creates 19.4 gallons of gasoline. The rest (over half) is used to make things like:

Solvents

Diesel fuel

Motor Oil

Bearing Grease

Ink

Floor Wax

Ballpoint Pens

Football Cleats

Upholstery

Sweaters

Boats

Insecticides

Bicycle Tires

Sports Car Bodies

Nail Polish

Fishing lures

Dresses

Tires

Golf Bags

Perfumes

Cassettes

Dishwasher parts

Tool Boxes

Shoe Polish

Motorcycle Helmet

Caulking

Petroleum Jelly

Transparent Tape

CD Player

Faucet Washers

Antiseptics

Clothesline

Curtains

Food Preservatives

Basketballs

Soap

Vitamin Capsules

Antihistamines

Purses

Shoes

Dashboards

Cortisone

Deodorant

Footballs

Putty

Dyes

Panty Hose

Refrigerant

Percolators

Life Jackets

Rubbing Alcohol

Linings

Skis

TV Cabinets

Shag Rugs

Electrician's Tape

Tool Racks

Car Battery Cases

Epoxy

Paint

Mops

Slacks

Insect Repellent

Oil Filters

Umbrellas

Yarn

Fertilizers

Hair Coloring

Roofing

Toilet Seats

Fishing Rods

Lipstick

Denture Adhesive

Linoleum

Ice Cube Trays

Synthetic Rubber

Speakers

Plastic Wood

Electric Blankets

Glycerin

Tennis Rackets

Rubber Cement

Fishing Boots

Dice

Nylon Rope

Candles

Trash Bags

House Paint

Water Pipes

Hand Lotion

Roller Skates

Surf Boards

Shampoo

Wheels

Paint Rollers

Shower Curtains

Guitar Strings

Luggage

Aspirin

Safety Glasses

Antifreeze

Football Helmets

Awnings

Eyeglasses

Clothes

Toothbrushes

Ice Chests

Footballs

Combs

CD's & DVD's

Paint Brushes

Detergents

Vaporizers

Balloons

Sun Glasses

Tents

Heart Valves

Crayons

Parachutes

Telephones

Enamel

Pillows

Dishes

Cameras

Anesthetics

Artificial Turf

Artificial limbs

Bandages

Dentures

Model Cars

Folding Doors

Hair Curlers

Cold cream

Movie film

Soft Contact lenses

Drinking Cups

Fan Belts

Car Enamel

Shaving Cream

Ammonia

Refrigerators

Golf Balls

Toothpaste

Gasoline
Mark
11:55AM APR 29TH 2014
Republican girl in Tallahassee, Besides wasting the space here, your point in trying to tell everyone how much we "need" oil is beyondthought. It's actually time to cut out the overuse of oil based products and start allowing those inventors to produce what they say they can do. Meanwhile, add your cell phone to the list of wasted oil based products!
Repubtallygirl
1:35PM APR 29TH 2014
You use/consume oil and oil products like everyone else.
DRILL BABY DRILL!
Repubtallygirl
1:35PM APR 29TH 2014
You use/consume oil and oil products like everyone else.
DRILL BABY DRILL!
Gen X
8:24AM APR 29TH 2014
There other things you can make those products out of besides finite toxic sludge.
Dean
8:40PM APR 28TH 2014
There is a finite quanity of oil and it is important in many ways. Why are we still burning it when there are alternatives? What gives us the right to suck it all out of the ground and burn it? What are our children and grandchildren supposed to use? We are going to force them to do what we should be doing and they will not have all of those important byproducts.
Repubtallygirl
1:33PM APR 29TH 2014
We have more oil than we know what to do with. Quit drinking the koolaide
Dean
2:03PM APR 29TH 2014
What a lame response. I know exactly what to do with it. Leave it in the ground for our children to use. What do you believe? That there is an infinite supply? Someday we will run out. Also, you failed to answer. What right do we have to use it up? Because unless you somehow believe there is an infinite supply, it will run out. When it does our children and grandchildren will no longer have all the other things it can make. Burning it in cars is simply shortsighted, selfish and wrong.
LDouglas
3:27PM APR 28TH 2014
Surely you don't think just because someone uses something it means they can't advocate for a substitute for it, using it more wisely or in a better way.

Geez, if that's the way it was we'd still be using washboards and driving Model T's, if not still riding horses for transportation.

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