Saturday, April 21, 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: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18