Thursday, June 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: New hope for solar in Florida

Sometimes good ideas survive even when shortsighted leaders ignore them. News that a small cadre of solar power firms is figuring out ways to gain a foothold in Florida's energy market despite the political hostility is good for consumers, the environment and the state's future. It also should provide additional evidence for more thoughtful lawmakers to persuade Gov. Rick Scott and Republican legislative leaders to focus on the future of renewable energy.

For years, Tallahassee leaders have said they see no reason to encourage solar here and made up all sorts of excuses, from cloud cover to lower-than-average energy rates. They ignored the long-term environmental benefits of a renewable energy source that doesn't cause pollution and refused to consider how the economics could change with regulatory encouragement. The result: Despite being one of the sunniest places in the country — second only to parts of the Southwest and West — Florida now lags behind less sunny states when it comes to solar power collection. New Jersey, which enjoys 33 percent less sun exposure each day, has six times the solar capacity of Florida's mere 150 megawatts. California produces the most, 2,559 megawatts.

Now some solar firms are finding a way around Florida's restrictive energy policy, written in the last century when the technology for energy creation and transmission required enormous infrastructure investments. The law prohibits anyone but state-sanctioned monopolies such as Duke Energy and Tampa Electric from selling power directly to consumers, meaning any solar-power producer has to sell its power to the monopolies at the cheaper wholesale rate. That makes it harder to recoup an investment, much less make a profit.

That law doesn't apply to individual property owners. And as the Tampa Bay Times' Ivan Penn recently reported, that leaves an opening for a new financing model where a solar firm leases solar equipment to individuals to produce power for their homes at a lower cost than paying a monopoly for the same power. Those economics are expected to only improve as innovation drives down solar equipment costs at the same time that traditional power generation technologies grow more costly due to increasing fossil fuel or pollution costs. Solar will not solve all the state's energy needs, but it could go a long way toward the state's energy independence.

Yet in Tallahassee, many state leaders are stuck in the past, claiming the future lies with nuclear — even after Duke Energy's botched repair job in Crystal River and its folly in Levy County that will rob customers of an estimated $3.2 billion — or clean coal. Others, such as Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, are focused on expanding natural gas pipelines, which means once again importing energy. Meanwhile, the sun is rising and setting each day in the Sunshine State and far too little is being done to harness it.

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Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBIís handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but itís also suppression

The Supreme Courtís ruling last Monday to allow Ohioís purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they havenít voted, Ohioís purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18