Giant solar plant launches | Feb. 14
Caution advised on renewables
I keep hearing complaints about Florida, the Sunshine State, lagging behind in the deployment of renewable power generation such as solar. There is a good reason for caution in committing to large-scale renewable power projects. Simply stated, the current technologies for electric power generated by non-fossil fuels are either physically and/or economically impractical.
A good example of this is the Ivanpah thermal solar plant in your Friday business section. This plant consists of 350,000 mirrors spread over 5 square miles with three, 450-foot-tall towers containing boilers. This massive project only generates 400 megawatts, small by conventional power plant comparison, and only generates power when the sun shines unless assisted by the natural gas generators installed in each tower.
The ongoing maintenance costs and environmental impact of this project are still unknown. The article states that the $2.2 billion cost of this project is over 2 ½ times the cost of fossil fuel generation. It was built with a federal loan guarantee of $1.6 billion and a 30 percent tax credit. All of these guarantees and credits are being phased out and no similar projects are in the works. Is this the kind of project that would be practical for Florida?
The same situation holds true for both wind and photovoltaic power generation at this time; they are either impractical or uneconomic. On a positive note, rapid advancements in technology will ultimately make photovoltaic power generation on both large and small scales a viable solution for the Sunshine State. However, deploying large-scale projects with the current technology that will rapidly become obsolete will only result in higher electric bills and higher taxes for subsidies, and will generate only a small percentage of needed power.
Joe Wareham, Tierra Verde
'The Monuments Men'
Messages from the past
Besides its lessons in art history and 20th century history, The Monuments Men movie asks the question: Is saving art worth the lives of those who died to save it?
The answer in the movie was a firm yes, but further exploration of the issue seems warranted. What do we save when we save the Ghent Altarpiece? We save an early oil painting that provides a cultural record of the time, 1426, and what people believed. Done at the beginning of the Renaissance, the meticulously rendered earthly environment was a celebration of a newfound love of and relationship with nature.
But is that all? I think the work also carries a message to us and to our descendants, from centuries past: a message of love and permanence. Jan and Hubert Van Eyck were creating something that would last beyond their lifetimes, sending a message of hope into the future.
This painting — and the other paintings, drawings and sculptures that were stolen and stored in the various mines throughout Germany and Austria by the Nazis — carries a message with a double edge.
If the Nazis hadn't stolen the art and saved it under ideal storage conditions, there is little doubt that the Allies would have destroyed most of it in bombing European cities in the effort to defeat the Nazis. So we have the bad guys to thank for the fact that you and I can gaze upon those amazing objects.
However, we also learn in this movie that the Nazi soldiers had orders to destroy all the art if they were losing. The fact that the Monuments Men were at the front lines enabled them to rescue many repositories before they were destroyed.
Roberta Schofield, Tampa
Amendment is too risky
As deputy police chief of Coleman, I join the Florida Police Chiefs Association in its strong opposition to any proposals that would legalize or decriminalize the sale, possession or use of marijuana.
I believe the currently proposed constitutional amendment places the safety of our citizens and our community in Sumter County in jeopardy, primarily due to the potential for expansion well beyond medical treatment for serious conditions. The very nature of marijuana makes standardization of the drug's potency extremely difficult, and we know from our state and federal partners that marijuana with higher levels of THC can be extremely dangerous.
Without clear guidelines for enforcement or even appropriate regulation, this amendment may create more problems than it intends to alleviate.
Thomas E. Santarlas, Coleman
Officers: Teens run wild | Feb. 11
This same scenario plays out every year at the Florida State Fair. As time goes on, it gets a little bigger and more violent as unsupervised teenybopper thugs and thugettes do their thing. According to their clueless parents, they're all budding NFL stars or rocket scientists.
But the fair isn't the only venue they've ruined. Remember BayWalk? Our own local group of unsupervised brats pretty much destroyed any chance of its success. They ran people down with their bicycles, mugged shoppers and theatergoers in the parking garage and tried to start fights at every opportunity. And once the war protesters decided to join the fun, it was all over for the merchants.
Will they reappear when Bill Edwards finishes his new project? Sadly, they probably will unless something is done to prevent it.
Bob Dalzell, St. Petersburg
Well-educated and rising | Feb. 13
More specialty slots needed
I found the article by Robert Trigaux interesting, but most people realize that having a four-year degree or beyond will get you a better-paying job. From this article, it is important to see the need for specialty schools. Some students may not be academics, but certainly could learn a trade that would benefit them for years to come. My pet peeve is that we need more of these schools. I have seen some improvement through magnet programs in various schools in the Tampa Bay Area, but we need more.
I was annoyed at Trigaux's last paragraph about motivating kids to show up because it may cost them later in life. I may be old-fashioned, but learning was considered fun and not a chore.
Marilyn Satinoff, Palm Harbor