Don’t be fooled by Florida utility companies again. Amendment 1 is Florida’s private utility Cartels last death rattle, and they know it.

Florida Utility companies know that they are fighting against a tide that has solidified. This awareness explains the recent $3. 5 million dollars that’s been ponied up by FPL and Duke energy to secure passage of an Amendment by shear slight of hand.

The how and why? Well, here is a little history. In 2006, as cap-n-trade was winning support in congress and when even future Republican Presidential candidate Senator John McCain supported it , states believed that the policy would be a foregone conclusion. So, in anticipation, the Florida legislature committed  its Public Service Commissions to developing a strategy for  incrementally increasing renewable energy production as a goal, but  without hard targets;  and to also  have utilities pursue strategies that cap emissions.

Utilities also  feared that  with an Obama win,  Federal  rules formulated by the Federal Energy Regulation Commission ( FERC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would be even more onerous for the industry than those promised by McCain. In 2008, renewable energy advocates in Florida had President in Barack Obama and a Governor  Charlie Crist who paled around with California’s Governor  Arnold Schwarzenegger,  when California led the nation in renewable energy policy.  But, the love fest with renewable energy and the begrudging acquiescence  of the investor owned utility industry came to a head as opposition in congress  found its winning message from the Heritage foundation and other conservative think tanks. The winning  messaging campaigns  that cap-n-trade is  “ cap-n-tax” , and   that “renewable energy would kill jobs” was hatched. These successful message campaigns  brought all thoughtful Republicans in line with those on the hard right. The  message campaign , coupled with the Solyndra Solar debacle made both a  Federal Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard and cap-n-trade policy  dead on arrival. When the dust settled moderate Republicans no longer supported the dream, as those who did where attacked form the right in their re-election campaigns.  The utility cartel found its voice.

In Florida we  elected a climate change denier in  Rick Scott as  Governor in 2010, and later elected  the  Republican   Majority leader in congress who was charged with leading  the fight against renewable energy as Commissioner of Agriculture In Commissioner Adam Putman.  With Governor Scotts blessings,  Commissioner Putnam then wasted no time dismantling whatever infrastructure remained that focused on creating  robust renewable energy policy in Florida. He first eliminated  the Florida Energy Commission created by Gov Crist, then through the legislature, placed all energy  policy into the office of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer service.

Then  the 2012 Florida legislative session with HB 7117 and SB 2094,  put the nail in the coffin for all of the progress that had been made in the intervening years. The bills eliminated any and all references in statutory   language stating intent to at least pursue  a future Florida Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS),  which  would have  increased renewable energy production. This writer argued that without the language of  intent and priority, that the legislature would be closing the door on ever taking our rightful place as leaders in solar energy.  And, the utility lobby even coerced some renewable energy  advocates to support the bill as a compromise with an off the record promise of working out more favoring legislation or rules for the next session. Many were fooled. However,  the Florida Renewable Energy Producers Association (FREPA)  opposed it. We knew that once passed, and with no stated intent to increase solar energy, any and all momentum toward more renewable energy in Florida by independent producers would stop, and it did.


So what’s changed now and why the disingenuous amendment?  It’s because, the industrys’ consultants and pollsters  are aware that more than likely our next president will be Hillary Clinton, and they know that the global community is closing in on our state leaders  propensity for  keeping us in the dark ages regarding climate change. The utility industry has historically shown that it can plan and act in advance of the anticipated changes in the political winds, as they did in 2006. They are aware that  a Clinton administration would be a restart button for Obamas energy goals,  that she would likely have a more favorable congress , and that she may be even more tenacious than Obama…..the  policy wonk and creature of Washington that she is.   These are things that investor owned utilities know and the why now of Amendment 1.  So, don’t be fooled. Even they know they’re on the wrong side of history. Vote No on Amendment 1.

See: http://www.gainesville.com/opinion/20120301/michael-dobson-florida-must-get-serious-about-renewable-energy






Michael Dobson is a long-time Tallahassee based Governmental Relations Consultant, political consultant, columnist, Founder/ President of Florida Renewable Energy Producers Association,  and  Managing Member of  Dobson Craig and Associates

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