Tom Lane: A fight against darkness


Published: Sunday, July 6, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 4, 2014 at 12:57 a.m.

People will get the government that they deserve. Unfortunately, unless you (yes, you) and the rest of Florida voters wake up, then you will find yourself in the serfdom of the Lords of Darkness.

The Koch Brothers and Florida's big utilities, Florida Power and Light and Duke Energy, are campaigning to unplug solar power in Florida. The Koch Brothers and the big utilities want to reverse Florida's solar policies and prevent proposals that currently benefit residential and commercial solar energy system owners. They want to stop and turn back the rapid growth of solar, which is threatening to break Americans from the death grip of fossil fuels.

The Koch Brothers are even demanding that we tax the sun! Since the installed solar capacity in Florida has shot up over 400 percent in the past four years as the cost of raw silicon materials dropped from $44 to $2 per pound, solar electric systems that used to be installed for $50,000 are now being installed for $18,000. The Lords of Darkness now realize that their utility oligarchy and huge fossil fuel profits may be coming to an end, and are buying legislators and media time to spread their lies.

The Koch Brothers and big utilities are pushing the dishonest idea that rooftop solar owners are not carrying their fair share of utility system costs. They are giving Florida politicians huge amounts of money that will support the lie that residential and commercial solar power system owners are freeloaders. They want solar incentives eliminated and to even penalize or tax the owners.

The Koch brothers, through groups like Americans For Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council, are spreading disinformation through their networks, post cards and television ads attacking solar energy.

The Lords of Darkness totally ignore that solar system owners are paying for the installation and maintenance of solar power on their roofs that can also provide power to their neighbors. They dishonestly never mention that these privately owned solar systems prevent the utilities from building new plants by reducing peak loads on the grid.

The Lords of Darkness totally ignore that solar energy also helps reduce peak demand in mid-summer for the most expensive peak power and the need for new utility plants. They ignore the fact that since 2008, solar energy has provided more growth in jobs in Florida than any other business.

The same Lords of Darkness who promote the belief that climate change is a myth now fight against solar energy as an alternative to their carbon-based wealth. The Lords of Darkness are demanding we tax the sun in Florida and forego any taxes on carbon-based fossil fuels. They are using their lobbyists to buy influence with campaign contributions and are meeting with Florida's decision makers to push for anti-solar legislation. The American Legislative Exchange Council is writing bills to penalize homeowners and businesses from owning solar systems and handwriting the talking points and legislation for their political stooges in the Florida Legislature.

Floridians continue to elect politicians that do not believe and do not support solar energy in the Sunshine State. Rep. Ritch Workman, the chairman of the House Finance and Tax subcommittee, declined to allow Floridians to even have a chance to vote on a referendum for businesses that install solar panels to be exempt from property tax assessment. He declined to even schedule a vote. The Melbourne Republican's decision landed him on a national list of the seven worst political blunders of the year.

The Florida Public Service Commission is supposedly the public's protection, but they are totally in the pocket of the dark forces. Think not? The commission allowed Duke Energy to charge its customers for a nuclear power plant before it was built. Now it is letting Duke Energy charge their customers for not building the nuclear plant

The Koch Brothers' combined worth is over $80 billion. They previously used this fortune only to attack climate scientists from the National Academy of Sciences and publicly shamed some of our top scientists at Florida's major universities. Now the Kochtopus and the big utilities are running up against Americans who realize that solar power is now cheaper than utility power. Once people realize you can own your own electrical utility, you have unleashed personal energy independence.

Are you going to do nothing but allow Florida's legislators to roll over and continue to play fetch for the big utilities? You can join the Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy (FARE, www.farenergy.org) and find out about the fight against the Lords of Darkness. Personally write a letter or email your state representatives and senators to see if they back the positions put forward by FARE. Ask them if they have accepted any money from Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy, the Kochtopus or other anti-solar groups.

The 2014 elections will determine Florida's energy future for many years. The battle crosses party lines and is about the future of public power. Nationwide, the tea party has joined the Sierra Club, Green Peace and solar organizations to fight the Kochtopus's battle against energy independence. The question is, will you?

Tom Lane is president of ECS Solar Energy Systems of Gainesville.

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