Sunshine in the Sunshine State, A Squandered Resource?
Despite a promising start in the thirties when solar water heaters graced many subdivision homes, Florida has a dismal record in their use of solar power. It does sound hopeful to write that they have three solar plants up and running for the last three years and a world's first next generation solar plant that is connected to a conventional plan, but more should be done.
Their record lags way behind states with grey skies, such as New Jersey and Massachusetts. Fifty billion dollars a year leaves Florida to purchase coal, natural gas, and gasoline. Discouraging elements are changes in solar models, federal tax credits and a state with a record of rejecting renewable energy plans. Utility companies are the only ones that can sell power, solar companies can only sell at wholesale rates to utilities. Add to the picture electricity rates lower than in the North and the huge start up costs associated with solar power, and you have dismal results.
Solar companies are now considering leasing equipment to businesses. We can only hope that this trend will catch on and include residential customers.
Many thousands of Floridians live in RVs or some type of manufactured home. It takes only a short ride anywhere in the state to see the many trailer parks. Go across an overpass and the flat, white roofs seem to stretch right across the horizon. An ideal spot for solar installations. As boomers join the older snowbirds, a solar option will become more and more appealing. The demand peaks in the summer for the necessary air conditioning, but winter needs often include running a heater for a few hours a day.
Florida's Governor, Rick Scott, is fighting for his political life in the upcoming elections. One of his recent campaign statements bragged about a good record in protecting the environment. Would that this were so; journalists quickly punched holes in this assertion by hauling out the record of the many cutbacks taken while he was in office. A well thought out plan for the state with 86 per cent of America's sunshine would go along way to ensure his reelection.