Demand cools as reactors planned | May 19, story
We will need power from nuclear plants
The Florida Public Service Commission should approve the construction of the nuclear plant proposed by Progress Energy. The case can be made that the situation is really different this time around and the PSC should approve this additional capacity in the face of an economic downturn. It is hard to argue with slower growth projections, but we should consider the following scenarios:
The first thing we need to seriously consider is the avoidance of new power generation capacity using natural gas. Although natural gas is the energy resource of choice for new power generation plants, we are now facing a downturn in domestic natural gas production capacity. Energy companies are drilling more holes than ever but they have been unable to increase domestic production of natural gas for a number of years. The addition of nuclear power plants will mitigate our dependence on costly domestic natural gas and imported LNG to replace domestic production.
The second strategic issue of alternate energy for transportation is very important for utility companies. The most compelling business case for cheaper transportation is the battery-operated automobile for commuting short distances. These new cars are designed for short commutes of less than 100 miles and they will require a battery charge-up after every trip. This demand is not yet quantified, but significant progress will be made in the next 10 years, the time it will take to complete a nuclear power plant.
The long-term nature of nuclear power plant development will allow us time to recover from a routine economic downturn and allow us to plan for new forms of transportation. I recommend that we add this nuclear capacity to avoid further commitment to natural gas at higher prices and to provide the added capacity for alternative energy platforms based on electricity. We should all think long-term and take control of our future by supporting Progress Energy's project in Levy County.
Dan Berard, Largo
Don't let power companies stick it to consumers
Wait just a minute! Since when are private citizens required to underwrite the cost of industry expansion? Progress Energy and Florida Power & Light want to stick it to us in advance to construct nuclear plants that will cost $30-billion, a price that will probably escalate.
By 2009 the average residential customer could be paying $9 a month to begin construction. How many years are we going to pay in advance and what guarantee do we have that it will not be increased as the years roll by? And that's not to mention the fact that we don't have a safe way to dispose of nuclear waste.
Give us a choice. We live in Florida, the Sunshine State. Solar power is readily available. It won't break the bank and our investment would immediately pay off in the form of energy as soon as the system is installed — clean energy that will not degrade the environment.
We need to make the right choice, and it is not footing the bill for Progress Energy to build nuclear reactors.
Jeannine Talley, Pinellas Park
A real energy policy needed
Last week President Bush asked our friends the Saudis to significantly increase their oil production in an effort to drive down the cost of a barrel of oil. Our friends responded in the same way as they did a few months ago: No!
When will President Bush and Vice President Cheney wise up and develop a real energy policy, one that will make us independent from "friends" like Saudi Arabia? The policy should begin with conservation methods such as reducing highway speed limits, raising thermostats in the summer and lowering them in the winter. It should also provide leadership and incentives to get this country away from the need for large volumes of oil, to develop more fuel-efficient and different types of fueled vehicles, mass transit systems, wind power farms and solar power systems.
Until we have the leadership in Washington to make this country energy independent, we will be held hostage to the big oil companies and to our "friends."
John Doerrler, St. Petersburg
Who will show the way?
In the political arena there is no candidate willing to address the energy crisis we are facing today in the United States and throughout the world.
If one of our presidential candidates would step up to the plate and take on the issue of energy and work to solve the crisis in this area he/she would be the person best suited to lead this country.
Unless we solve this problem, $4 a gallon for gasoline will look cheap in a few years, and there is no way that we would be able to recover from all of the losses of the blue collar jobs to foreign countries. We could be a starving nation in the near future if we don't get a handle on energy.
We need a comprehensive energy program that will address alternative fuels for energy and for vehicles if we expect our economy is to survive.
I would like to see something sent out to all of the presidential candidates telling them to focus on our needs as a country and to establish high priorities for a comprehensive energy program to get our economy back on track. This would make us a stronger America and a leader for the world to follow our move to more efficient energy resources.
Paul Sherwood, Hudson
Remember those talks?
Isn't it time we revisited the secret Dick Cheney energy talks in light of the unprecedented rise in fuel prices?
I think it's about time we had full attendance records and transcripts of those meetings.
Lawrence Noyes, Spring Hill
Benefits of biking
Feeling heavy in the gut, light in the wallet and stressed out from sitting in traffic? Substituting a bike for a car whenever possible not only reduces those problems but also increases appreciation of driving.
The ability to move 60 mph for hours on end just by flexing an ankle, while sitting in a comfortable chair in a climate-controlled space is a miracle.
But it is difficult to have such a perspective when an auto is the only means of transportation you employ. As bicycling more and driving less increases your appreciation for motor vehicles, you will find yourself driving slower and safer. And that is good for everyone.
Chip Thomas, Tampa
VA doctor tells staff to cut PTSD diagnoses
May 16, story
Vets deserve the help
In regard to the article about post-traumatic stress disorder related to military service, be it from World Wars I or II, Korea, Vietnam, all the way to Iraq: The administrator from Texas in this story has no clue what the vets and their families and friends — if they have any — go through every day of their lives. There are nightmares, flashbacks, short tempers, the mental anguish that lingers, failed marriages, lost jobs, lack of friends and more.
She most likely never got shot at, dodged incoming rockets, mortars, got wounded, or watched the guy next to her die. She likely didn't sleep with one eye open or get no sleep at all. She likely didn't have to put up with having no clean uniforms and no bath in 100-plus degree temperatures.
I speak as a Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War who has PTSD for 40 years now. You try to sort it out, bury it, what ever it takes to make it disappear. You may deny anything is wrong, that the rest of society is messed up (partly true), but it never goes away completely. You try to learn to cope with it .
What she said is ludicrous. All of these soldiers deserve as much help as they can get, for as long as needed. They, we, deserve compensation for our service. After all, the government spends money like drug addicts! Who better to spend it on? My thanks to all of you who served!
Bill Durnell, Holiday
The farm bill
The Democrat-controlled House and Senate just passed a $300-billion farm bill, with most of the money going to millionaire farmers who are already living well, with many being subsidized by the last energy bill to turn their corn into ethanol. Oh, there is more money for food stamps, too, to help all the starving people in America.
President Bush has said it is reckless and too expensive and threatened a veto.
But it passed with a veto-proof majority and will become law, passed by an out-of-control Congress that just ignores basic commonsense financial principles like paying for what you spend.
Ronnie Dubs, St. Petersburg