Utilities call shots; public loses | July 23, editorial
Misleading energy issue coverage
The Times' coverage of energy issues continues to be based on little more than political sound bites. Instead of relying on facts or science, the newspaper repeatedly makes misleading claims.
Case in point, the newspaper's premise — "Instead of listening to the public, the PSC is hearing only from electric utilities" — is demonstrably untrue. As many news outlets reported, numerous voices were involved in the PSC's proceeding, including public counsel, environmentalists, customer representatives and the NAACP.
The Times also fails to understand the fact that the cost of meeting energy-efficiency goals directly impacts customer rates. Florida has been smart about conservation for many years, resisting arbitrary mandates that other states now regret due to the high customer rates they produce.
FPL's data-driven process distinguishes between programs that deliver real customer benefits and those that do not, preventing the need to build 14 medium power plants. By continuing to focus squarely on proven, cost-effective efforts, we estimate we can save FPL customers about $80 million a year in unnecessary costs while they benefit from approximately 13 percent more energy efficiency over the next decade.
Conversely, out-of-state lobbying groups like the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy promote extreme proposals that would drive up costs for all Floridians. Sadly, the Times parrots SACE and others with financial stakes in attacking utilities. An especially egregious claim is that "utilities have done everything they can to thwart the development of solar power." The Times need look no further than its own past reporting on Florida Power & Light's solar efforts, which include building the state's first large-scale solar energy center nearly five years ago.
We take our responsibility to our customers and state very seriously, regardless of politics. Energy is a complex issue, with challenges that won't be solved by 30-second sound bites and unsubstantiated claims.
Eric Silagy, president and CEO, Florida Power & Light Co., Juno Beach
Hunting answers | July 27
This article was disturbing, to say the least. Unfortunately, it was not even a bit surprising. It simply reinforces what any Floridian with any common sense already knows: Our state politicians are for sale to the highest bidder. They don't want to talk about this, and — in fact — don't think it is anybody's business. It's just business as usual. You pay us. We protect you. We should stop calling it a Legislature and start calling it what it is: a mafia.
What is worse is that it is not confined to Florida. It goes all the way to Washington. And our Supreme Court is fine with it. In fact, the justices think this is the way things should be. Your voice should be heard by as many ears as you can buy. "Freedom of speech" has been polluted into buying the freedom to be heard. If you are just a regular, honest person, don't expect to be heard at all. Own a bunch of casinos, an "oil services" company or the sugar industry, however, and you can buy all the voice you want.
Until we collectively agree that the "corporations are people" crowd should get kicked out on their ears, we will continue to be governed by crooks.
Buck Beasom, Tampa
Tempest in a teacup
I'm hunting for answers, too. Answers about "Fast and Furious," Lois Lerner's emails, Benghazi, the VA, and why a Marine reservist is still rotting in a Mexican jail.
Instead, the Times gives us a "phony scandal" about some Republican hunting trip to Texas. If the Times (and other media) would have devoted the same time, money, effort and space to getting to the bottom of the IRS scandal, it would have been cleaned up back in January.
Kenneth R. Gilder, St. Petersburg
Scott should come clean on rail project July 24, editorial
Rail plan is private venture
It is necessary to set the record straight on the state's most important transportation project. All Aboard Florida has become a football passed between political parties, campaigns and carelessly researched editorials.
Setting the record straight
First, All Aboard Florida has never sought special treatment from Gov. Rick Scott's office, or any other public official for that matter. Adam Hollingsworth, the governor's chief of staff, previously served as president of Parallel Infrastructure, a Florida East Coast Industries subsidiary company. When Hollingsworth left and joined the governor's team, he recused himself from all issues related to FECI.
Second, All Aboard Florida has not asked for and is not receiving any state grants or subsidies. We are a privately funded business that has the financing in place to start construction between Miami and West Palm Beach. We are not benefiting from any appropriated funds that were designated during this year's session.
The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority has been planning an intermodal facility since the 1990s. The funding provided to the authority by the state will be used to construct a facility that will serve many other forms of transportation. All Aboard Florida has entered into a lease agreement at commercial rates.
Third, the first phase of our private venture has been fully capitalized. Construction will begin on the Miami-to-West Palm Beach segment immediately, and we will begin construction on the segment north of West Palm Beach once the environmental process is completed.
The entire state will feel a stream of steady benefits in the form of billions of dollars in economic output, more than 10,000 jobs, and hundreds of millions of dollars in additional tax revenues.
We remain focused on developing this new infrastructure backbone that will transform the way we move and do business.
Michael Reininger, president and chief development officer, All Aboard Florida, Coral Gables
Ariz. inmate's execution takes two hours July 24
Time and justice
Convicted murderers get room and board for 10 to 40 years. Executions take one to two hours. Which is more of a travesty?
Darryl David, St. Petersburg