Business

Green Energy-ites Like Sink; Scott Lashes Back

Republican says 'leftist proposals' will boost taxes, increase federal dependence
By: Kenric Ward & Kevin Derby | Posted: September 8, 2010 4:05 AM
Logs (Biomass)

Commercial timber could be used as a biomass energy feedstock

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink won the endorsement of a renewable-energy group Tuesday, for which she was promptly thrashed by Republican opponent Rick Scott.

The Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy (FARE) called Sink the "clear and easy choice" in the governor's race.

Accepting the endorsement at an event in Delray Beach, Sink, the state's chief financial officer, said, "Right now, Florida's lack of a clear vision and a consistent energy policy is costing Floridians good jobs -- that ends when I am governor."

Tying green energy ventures to employment growth has been a staple of President Barack Obama, whose popularity continues to decline in Florida, and Scott was quick to hammer away at the connection.

“Just like the stimulus, Alex Sink is making a false claim that her leftist energy proposals will create jobs. From raising taxes on utilities to dependence on federal spending, when the rubber meets the road, Alex Sink is right in line with her fellow Obama liberals and promoting policies that will only cost more jobs," said Scott spokesman Joe Kildea.

"As governor, Rick will work toward energy independence from foreign oil with the expansion of nuclear power, the use of alternative fuels and ensure that we can drill for oil safely," Kildea said.

Mike Antheil, director of FARE, responded, "It is sad that Rick Scott will not publicly or even in writing say anything at all about encouraging a renewable-energy industry in Florida as Alex Sink has done.

"We have studied both campaigns, and Rick Scott has been notably silent on the renewable-energy platform."

Sink's position on alternative energy was a key factor in a number of endorsements her campaign unveiled at a Delray Beach event Tuesday. The Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy, Floridians for Energy Independence and the Florida Feedstock Growers Association, which backed U.S. Rep. Alan Putnam to be the state's next commissioner of agriculture and consumer services in August, all endorsed Sink.

FARE, formed in 2008, says it represents more than 100 small businesses across the state, as well as large national and global companies looking to expand to Florida.

"We are not left-leaning, we are business people, many of whom are Republicans," Antheil said. But he warned that business as usual won't grow Florida's economy or broaden its energy base in a sustainable way.

"Nuclear reactors create electricity, they do not create jobs or manufacturing," Antheil added.

Gov. Charlie Crist began his administration by hosting a "Climate Summit" in Miami, attracting the likes of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. But that high-profile push went nowhere as Crist turned his attention to other issues.

The Legislature has deadlocked over green initiatives such as a renewable portfolio standard, which would set minimum requirements for solar, wind or biomass energy sources. It is not clear how Sink would fare with a House and Senate expected to remain firmly under Republican control next year.

The industry itself has split over the best ways to generate renewable power and jobs. Biomass ventures say they can produce the most local jobs; others, ranging from small-scale outfits to large investor-owned utilities such as Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy, say solar is the best bet for the Sunshine State.

Sink says she wants to target and encourage new energy industry growth by establishing "energy finance districts," boosting partnerships between public university faculty and private industry and leveraging investments from the federal government and private capital for new and renewable-energy initiatives.

But Sink's previous support for an expansion of a 2.5 percent gross receipts tax on utilities was assailed by Scott's team as counterproductive and potentially damaging to the economy.

Taxes notwithstanding, the Democrat's platform aligns closely with the agenda promoted at a Clean Energy Summit in July.

At the Orlando event, hosted by a group called Citizens for Clean Energy, incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, called for an "all energy solution.

"We don't pick winners in Tallahassee. We want to put everyone on a level playing field," he said.

FARE Vice President Ed Strobel, a self-described fiscally conservative Republican, said, "The solutions are simple. We just need a leader who won't be afraid to stand up to the large special interests to make it happen."

But Barbara Drndak, who owns a small solar concern in Vero Beach, said FARE doesn't speak for her.

"FARE is not a friend of the small, local solar community. They advocate production-side incentives that, in my opinion, only add more layers of bureaucracy (and costs) to the ratepayers," Drndak said.

"The goal should be to get solar out of government altogether and utilize a scaled Public Benefit Fund that all ratepayers pay into and all ratepayers can have access to. That would eliminate any of this coming from government dollars," she said.

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Contact Kenric Ward at kward@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 801-5341. Contact Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com, or at (850) 727-0859.




Comments (3)

Frank Norfleet
9:49AM SEP 11TH 2010
FARE is without a doubt the leading advocacy organization for the small and local solar community, as well as mid scale commercial projects. The quote by Barb DrnDak is shockingly biased. A public benefit fund is a dinosaur of a policy. This state does not need handouts and taxes for policy, we need a free and open marketplace, with any incentive given based on production, not a public benefit fund.
BM
5:16PM SEP 8TH 2010
There are hundreds of articles that show that "greenie jobs" result in a net loss of jobs. In fact, I believe a WSJ article stated that for every 1.4 green job created 2.7 jobs are lost.

Also, how many people does it take to watch a solar panel? No long term jobs for sure.
Leilah Kowalski
10:21AM SEP 8TH 2010
This article touches on some key items: Rick Scott is not with renewable energy because there is nothing in it for himself. He has been hiring people during the campane to do all the thinking for him because he is as dense as cement. He is for special interests, big business who will give him a kick back for political favors. He is a white collar criminal who approved the cooking of books at Columbia/HCA. He will allow anything as long as he gets his cut. Dishonest, ruthless and not his special interests are being hit financially so he is running for Governor and then President for only Rick Scott and to preserve his special interests his company at Solantic which is going to get redundant real quick once the Healthcare Reform policies are fully active.

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