Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Sunshine State, but not for energy

Something's wrong when New Jersey, Georgia and Mississippi have bragging rights on Florida. But that's the sorry state of solar power development, and it's time the Sunshine State lived up to its name.

Georgia's Republican utility regulator hammered home the point this month at an annual meeting in Orlando of industry professionals, highlighting the huge gains Georgia is making and debunking the excuses that others in government and industry have peddled about the prohibitive cost of cleaner energy. Bubba McDonald led the effort in 2010 to create 50 megawatts of solar in Georgia, about one-third of Florida's capacity. By the end of 2016, Georgia's solar capacity will reach 790 megawatts, dwarfing Florida's.

The trick is simple: Use hard targets or incentives to induce the power companies to develop solar as a larger part of the energy mix. Georgia gives state regulators the latitude to require utilities to include various sources of energy for electricity generation. North Carolina has required the use of renewable energy. Dozens of states have targets that push the industry to provide a percentage of their power from renewable sources. Florida lawmakers have opposed giving the state Public Service Commission that same authority; for now, the PSC reviews utility plans for "efficient, cost-effective" generation. That's code for a backward-looking model that encourages the industry to build new plants and to sell as much electricity as possible.

Renewables such as solar and efficiency programs are the cheapest sources of developing new energy capacity. What the industry needs is a push in that direction to spawn the types of research and investment that would make solar and other cleaner sources competitive with traditional forms of energy. Lisa Edgar, a PSC commissioner, said Florida wants more solar but "we haven't figured it out." What the PSC has mastered is a regulatory environment that forces Duke Energy customers to pay $3 billion for the company's failed nuclear ambitions and not get a single kilowatt of nuclear power in return.

Other states have figured out solar, and it starts with political leadership. California, the leading state, has 2,900 megawatts of installed solar; Arizona, about 1,100. The Sunshine State is not even in the top 12. The renewables industry has pleaded for years for Florida to adopt a more forward-looking business model, one that creates a climate for investment while giving energy manufacturers regulatory certainty. In Florida, utility executives have said they can add more solar if consumers are willing to pay more for it. But with federal tax credits available and new technology driving down equipment prices, it's past time that Florida joined the rest of the nation in diversifying its energy market with cleaner and more sustainable sources.

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Editorial: Look hard into Tampa Bay and Pinellas CareerSource CEO, and get to the bottom of the numbers and the money

Editorial: Look hard into Tampa Bay and Pinellas CareerSource CEO, and get to the bottom of the numbers and the money

Something is seriously amiss at Tampa Bay’s two CareerSource agencies, which receive millions in federal and state money to match unemployed workers with local employers. First, the agencies appear to be taking credit — and money — for job placements...
Published: 01/22/18

A Chicago Tribune editorial: Shut down this shutdown habit

"Shutting down the government of the United States of America should never ever be a bargaining chip for any issue. Period. It should be to governing as chemical warfare is to real warfare. It should be banned."— Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., addressing ...
Published: 01/22/18
Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Editorial: Beware of social media targeting kids

Ignoring all available evidence that screen time and social media exposure can be harmful to kids, Facebook recently unveiled a new messaging app targeting children under 13. It’s yet another battlefront for parents who have to constantly combat the ...
Published: 01/21/18
Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

The good news on the transportation front is that Tampa Bay’s government and business leaders are working together like never before to connect the region’s largest cities, attractions and employment centers with a more robust mass transit system. Th...
Published: 01/20/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18