Monday, July 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: BP more visionary than government on solar power

BP’s announcement of its new investment in solar reflects the continued momentum toward renewable energy. Lower prices, technological improvements and new consumer interest have combined to fundamentally change the market for cleaner energy — even without a much of a guiding hand from the state or federal governments. If a leader in fossil fuels can see the self-interest in diversifying its business model, then Florida and the nation can contribute more by creating a regulatory framework that’s good for consumers, business and the environment.

The global energy giant recently announced it would spend $200 million to acquire a large stake in British-based Lightsource, a solar power developer. BP’s investment would eventually give it a 43 percent stake in the company, allowing Lightsource to grow globally and giving BP a vehicle to focus its solar business.

BP was an early leader in the clean energy field, and it still has large holdings in wind power and biofuels. But it had largely closed down its solar operations, which focused on manufacturing equipment such as solar panels, after facing stiff competition from companies in Asia. Lightsource represents a new tack for BP; rather than investing on the equipment or technology side, Lightsource develops and manages solar installations. With double-digit growth in solar expected over the coming years, BP’s investment, one company official said, would bring growth, solid cash returns and profits on the new business side. Experts said the deal could generate a predictable and long-term revenue stream, which the industry needs as it makes the transition to cleaner energies.

BP’s commitment reflects the increasing role the company foresees for renewables, and the opportunities it provides legacy players in the energy industry to adapt and grow. With demand for oil expected to level off in the next several years, through about 2040, the race is on for these companies to carve a niche in an ever-changing landscape where electric vehicles, energy-efficient products and other changes in technology and lifestyles pose a challenge to fossil fuels.

According to a BP review of world energy, solar generating capacity more than tripled in the past four years around the globe and grew by over 30 percent in 2016. BP expects solar to generate a third of the world’s renewable power and up to 10 percent of total global power by 2035. That’s a fast turnaround by any corporate measure, and it comes as solar is experiencing huge advances in technology and new customer appeal, thanks to the reduced costs of installing the equipment, the reliability of the system and the solar co-ops and purchasing agreements that are making solar a smarter buy.

BP diversified its business and pursued cleaner energy long before the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010 tarnished its image. Its latest investment in solar is a clear indication about where it sees the industry headed, and it sends a message that renewables can be both good for public relations and good for the company’s bottom line. Florida Power & Light and Duke Energy also are investing more in solar, but states such as Florida and the federal government should further encourage the industry and the market by reducing cost and regulatory barriers to alternative energies. If Big Oil can plan for a cleaner future, so can our elected leaders.

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Editorial: Renting an apartment should not be a pipe dream for low-income workers

A modest apartment should not be financially out of reach for full-time workers in America. But a recent report reveals no one working full-time for minimum wage could afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in Florida or the rest of the nati...
Updated: 26 minutes ago

Editorial: NFL calls wise time-out on disciplining protests

The National Football League kept an embarrassing situation from becoming even worse by shelving its new policy clamping down on players who refuse to stand for the national anthem.The league announced late Thursday it would suspend the 2-month old p...
Published: 07/20/18
Editorial: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s responsible budget

Editorial: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s responsible budget

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is shoring up his final year in office with the proposed city budget he released Thursday. The plan includes no big-ticket items, opting instead to maintain ongoing investments in parks, roads and other basic public services....
Published: 07/19/18
Updated: 07/20/18

IRS making ‘dark money’ darker

Under a perverse interpretation of federal law, tax-exempt nonprofit organizations supposedly devoted to "social welfare" can spend large amounts of money to influence elections without publicly disclosing the identities of their donors. But instead ...
Published: 07/19/18
Updated: 07/20/18
Editorial: Ferry is fun but should pay for itself in long run

Editorial: Ferry is fun but should pay for itself in long run

The CrossBay Ferry appears headed for another round of rides across Tampa Bay, with local governments pledging one more year of financial support. But as more taxpayer money is steered into this project, it’s important to recognize what purpose the f...
Published: 07/18/18
Updated: 07/20/18
Editorial: Scott should order investigation of concealed weapons permitting

Editorial: Scott should order investigation of concealed weapons permitting

To his credit, Gov. Rick Scott says he is considering requests to order an independent investigation of how Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s office screens applications for concealed weapon permits. It’s a reasonable request, and the governor h...
Published: 07/18/18
Editorial: Algae blooms, toll woes and beach battles -- Florida’s fouled up summer

Editorial: Algae blooms, toll woes and beach battles -- Florida’s fouled up summer

July in Florida. The height of summer tourist season. Rental cars clog the highways and tourists crowd the beaches, motels and all-you-can-eat shrimp joints. Many of our neighbors are off to North Carolina or somewhere cooler. So it’s an awfully inco...
Published: 07/17/18
Updated: 07/20/18
Editorial: Sacrificing two kayaks and a Toyota for free speech

Editorial: Sacrificing two kayaks and a Toyota for free speech

Maggy Hurchalla joked this spring that all she could offer a billionaire who won a $4.4 million judgment against her after she exercised her free speech rights were "two kayaks and an aging Toyota.’’ The billionaire didn’t laugh. This week, Martin Co...
Published: 07/17/18
Updated: 07/18/18
Editorial: Trump sides with Putin over America

Editorial: Trump sides with Putin over America

In one of the most surreal news conferences of our time, President Donald Trump actually stood next to Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday and called the federal investigation into Russia’s meddling into the 2016 election "a disaster for our coun...
Published: 07/16/18
Editorial: A vote for preserving waterfront parks by St. Petersburg City Council

Editorial: A vote for preserving waterfront parks by St. Petersburg City Council

The St. Petersburg City Council made the appropriate but difficult decision to reject a contract with renowned artist Janet Echelman for one of her aerial sculptures. It would be wonderful for the city to have one of her signature works, but Spa Beac...
Published: 07/13/18