Florida’s air might get a lot cleaner in the next few decades, but how that newfound cleanliness may come about has been the subject of some debate in Florida’s stategovernment.
According to the Associated Press, the Florida state Senate’s energy plan would require more energy (50 percent) to be created from clean, renewable sources than any other state, mandating the change by 2017. The bill would also require the creation of a “net-metering” program, which would allow customers who have solar panels installed in their homes or businesses to receive compensation from power companies for energy they send back to the “grid.”
The Florida House, however, disagrees: Not with the legislation’s mission, but with its means. The House wants to “incentivize” the creation of renewable fuels such as ethanol. Rep. Bob Allen, R-Merritt Island, who also serves as Chairman of the House Committee on Energy, told the Associated Press, “Mandating is the old central government model where it’s Soviet-style. You’re telling people, ‘You shall do this,’ and you hope they will. You can’t make people spend and invest dollars … with a mandate as fast as you can when you incentivize it.”
If the Senate and House are concerned about business regulation issues, they could agree to lower the mandated percentage of clean energy to 25 percent. That would match Minnesota’s clean energy mandate, which is currently the highest in the nation. They could also table the net-metering program until a future date, since such programs are generally unappealing to power companies, according to Allen. The bill should also entail tax cuts and incentives to power companies for using green energy.
But there’s a problem: Incentives shouldn’t be offered to those who won’t discuss issues in good faith. According to Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, “we’re dragging the power companies kicking and screaming to the table.”
That’s not acceptable. Florida’s government is actually being rather generous, considering it could pass a mandate without discussing it with power companies at all. The government could even impose fines on power companies that failed to abide by the law. They aren’t doing that. Thus, the power companies owe them a frank discussion of ideas.
The power companies should be reprimanded – if not legislatively, then at least in the eye of the public – for having to be “dragged kicking and screaming to the table.” Florida’s government represents the people, and therefore deserves attention. After all, the people who elected Florida’s government and the people who consume Florida’s power are one and the same.