Quantcast
Business

Koch Brothers Continue War on Solar in Sunshine State

With its nickname being “The Sunshine State,” it would make sense for Florida to lead in solar energy in the U.S. But industry opposition and a climate change-denying governor have allowed the state to fall dangerously behind when it comes to harnessing the power of the sun.

The low solar production in Florida has less to do with energy costs, and everything to do with the influence of the dirty energy industry. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Today, solar energy only accounts for 2 percent of the total energy production in Florida, and industry analysts believe that the poor solar production is likely because the state’s average energy costs are about 30 percent below the national average, diminishing the demand for a cheaper, cleaner energy source.

But when you dig past the industry’s talking points and excuses, you’ll find something much more sinister at work.

The low solar production in Florida has less to do with energy costs and everything to do with the influence of the dirty energy industry.

According to existing Florida laws, which are unfairly skewed in favor of electric utilities, consumers are limited in their abilities to install solar panels on their own homes due to the restriction of solar panel equipment leasing in the state. In short, consumers in Florida are legally not allowed to purchase electricity from anyone other than a utility company.

Additionally, Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican legislature have gutted the state’s clean energy programs and eliminated Florida’s renewable energy goals.

Again, it all comes down to money.

Since 2010, the dirty energy industry has poured $12 million and initiatives, including a $1.1 million gift to Gov. Scott. Every single member in the legislature has taken money from the fossil fuel industry, with the 16 leaders averaging about $200,000 apiece. Some of the top donors were Duke Energy, Gulf Power and Koch Industries.

Koch Brothers' Anti-Solar Campaign in Florida

It should come as absolutely no surprise that the Koch brothers are leading the efforts to stifle solar energy in Florida.

When citizens in the state gathered the necessary signatures to get an initiative on the ballot that would repeal Florida’s anti-consumer solar restrictions, the Koch brothers sprang into action to make sure that this initiative was dead on arrival.

According to a report by PR Watch, the Kochs created a new astroturf group, Consumers for Smart Solar, that is working to create a counter-initiative that would actually prohibit consumers and businesses from contracting with solar companies that install solar equipment without charging an upfront fee—the only way that most Florida citizens would be able to afford solar energy.

This ballot initiative is supported by the Florida state government, as Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi is very vocal in her opposition to the citizens’ amendment due to her strong support for the dirty energy industry.

The Kochs and other industry interests were dealt a major blow last week when the Florida Supreme Court approved the Solar Choice Amendment to appear on the 2016 ballot.

Also working against the industry is the fact that 2016 is an election year, meaning Democratic voter turnout will be at an all time high, giving the initiative a very good chance at succeeding.

But even if the Florida fight goes in favor of consumers, the Koch brothers are also fighting against the solar industry in Arizona, Ohio and Kansas.

Again, these are likely to ultimately prove losing battles for the brothers, as 74 percent of American citizens believe that a portion of all electricity generated in the U.S. should come from clean, renewable sources.

The Kochs might wield a lot of power, but they don’t have enough money to fight the will of the 74 percent, or 235 million, Americans.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Exclusive: America’s 10 Cleanest and 10 Dirtiest States

4 Solar Powered Homes Designed by Students That Will Blow You Away

Apple to Clean Up Act in China With Huge Investments in Renewable Energy

Groups Plan Ballot Initiatives to Battle Climate Change in Washington and Oregon

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
African elephant. USFWS

Lawsuit Challenges Trump Administration Over New Elephant and Lion Trophy Policies, Still in Effect Despite Trump's Tweets

The Center for Biological Diversity and Natural Resources Defense Council sued the Trump administration Monday for allowing U.S. hunters to import elephant and lion trophies from Zimbabwe. The lawsuit aims to protect animals and resolve confusion created by the administration's contradictory announcements in recent days.

The suit comes days after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service abruptly reversed an Obama-era ban on elephant trophy imports based on catastrophic elephant population declines. Fish and Wildlife also recently greenlighted lion trophy imports from Zimbabwe, despite the controversial killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe in 2015.

Keep reading... Show less
Below the Mackinac bridge runs Enbridge Line 5, transporting 23 Million gallons of oil and liquid gas every day. Conor Mihell

Four Questions About the New Line 5 Pipeline Report

By Beth Wallace

In June, the state of Michigan released a draft report on alternatives to Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline, which pumps up to 23 million gallons of oil and natural gas liquids (NGLs) per day along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. The draft report, written by Dynamic Risk, was met with heavy criticism from all sides, and the National Wildlife Federation joined with many others to suggest numerous and substantive changes. On Nov. 20, the final alternatives report was released to the public. As per an agreement with the state to obtain funding for the report, Enbridge has had five days to review this report before it is released publicly.

Keep reading... Show less
USDA

Thanksgiving Dinner Is Cheapest in Years, But Are Family Farms Paying the Price?

By Sarah Reinhardt

Last week, the Farm Bureau released the results of its annual price survey on the cost of a typical Thanksgiving dinner. The grand total for a "feast" for 10 people, according to this year's shoppers? About 50 dollars ($49.87, if you want to be exact). That includes a 16-pound turkey at $1.40 per pound, and a good number of your favorite sides: stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk.

After adjusting for inflation, the Farm Bureau concluded that the cost of Thanksgiving dinner was at its lowest level since 2013. Let's talk about what that means for farmers, and for all of us.

Keep reading... Show less

Would More People Ride the Bus if It Looked and Felt Like a Train?

By Jeff Turrentine

It moves through city thoroughfares, towering above automobile traffic. It makes frequent stops to pick up and drop off passengers. It has places to sit, places to stand, and—yes—rubber-tired wheels that go 'round and 'round, all through the town.

But don't call it a bus. It's a "trackless electric train."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

Electric Car Sales Surge 63% Globally

Electric vehicles (EVs) continue to gain momentum on the world market.

Global sales of electric and hybrid cars are 63 percent higher than the same quarter last year, and up 23 percent from the second quarter, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) report.

Keep reading... Show less
Harvesting sugarcane in Brazil. Jonathan Wilkins / CC BY-SA

Jet Fuel From Sugarcane? It’s No Flight of Fancy

By Deepak Kumar, Stephen P. Long and Vijay Singh

The aviation industry produces two percent of global human-induced carbon dioxide emissions. This share may seem relatively small—for perspective, electricity generation and home heating account for more than 40 percent—but aviation is one of the world's fastest-growing greenhouse gas sources. Demand for air travel is projected to double in the next 20 years.

Airlines are under pressure to reduce their carbon emissions, and are highly vulnerable to global oil price fluctuations. These challenges have spurred strong interest in biomass-derived jet fuels. Bio-jet fuel can be produced from various plant materials, including oil crops, sugar crops, starchy plants and lignocellulosic biomass, through various chemical and biological routes. However, the technologies to convert oil to jet fuel are at a more advanced stage of development and yield higher energy efficiency than other sources.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Renewable Energy
"Eólica" or wind power plant in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. ICE Group / Twitter

Costa Rica Runs Entirely on Renewable Energy for 300 Days

Costa Rica has charted another clean energy accolade. So far this year, the Central American country has run on 300 days of 100 percent power generation from renewable energy sources, according to the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE), which cited figures from the National Center for Energy Control.

With six weeks left of 2017 to go, Costa Rica could easily surpass 300 days.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
iStock

Starbucks Falls Short on Environmental Commitments

By Davis Harper

Since the early 1970s, Starbucks has held a special place in cupholders. Widespread infatuation with the company's caffeinated beverages has earned the coffee giant a storefront on almost every corner. With outposts in 75 countries and a whopping 13.3 million people enrolled in its loyalty rewards program, Starbucks has scorched nearly all of its closest competitors among major U.S. food brands (most of which aren't even coffee chains) in total market value.

With such reach and power comes tremendous responsibility. Starbucks touts its own corporate responsibility—claiming to be climate-change-aware and cognizant of its environmental cup-print—but how many latte-sippers know that their paper cup actually isn't recyclable and that it'll likely end up in a landfill? Might the knowledge that Starbucks's meat supply is pumped with antibiotics alter the market's appetite for the popular chicken and double-smoked bacon sandwich? Although the company prides itself on environmental awareness and progress toward sustainable products, multiple reports point to the mega-corporation's failure to live up to its own purported standards.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!