Another year, another funeral for renewable energy legislation backed by Florida Power & Light. #
Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander pronounced the measure dead Tuesday, but not before his committee approved a pair of amendments that were essentially poison pills gutting its most controversial provisions. #
Senate Bill 2078 would have helped spur utilities like Florida Power & Light to invest in renewable energy at ratepayers’ expense, potentially to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. #
One of Alexander’s amendments would have given the state Public Service Commission a say over rate increases that would have allowed utilities such as FPL to charge their customers for renewable energy projects. The other would have confined the utilities to projects that were in line with their current generation costs, which Alexander said would close the door on the possibility that the utilities would use the rate increases to pay for pricey solar projects. #
Alexander said laying the measure to rest after adding the amendments would send a message “to anyone who thinks it’s a good idea, that I think it’s a terrible idea.” #
“It’s a pretty sweet deal” for certain utilities, he said. They would have been able to accumulate capital (in the form of massive solar plants) that they wouldn’t have had to pay for (thanks to the rate increases) without overloading the grid. That would have helped them pad their profit margins at a time when demand for a new generation in Florida is leveling off. #
Sen. Thad Altman, R-Viera, attempted to offer a pair of amendments intended to increase support of distributed power generation. One was a simplified version of a change he proposed during a previous hearing, which would have required 20 percent of the money from the rate increases to go to small-scale power projects, such as rooftop solar panels and mini-biomass plants fueled by farm waste. The other would have helped undo a provision some solar contractors warned would kill net-metering, which requires utilities to credit customers for power their solar systems return to the grid. #
When members starting questioning Altman’s proposals, Alexander asked him to set them aside for lack of time. After all, they turned out to be moot. #
A federal judge in Miami ruled today that Gov. Rick Scott's executive order mandating that all state workers be randomly drug tested violates the Fourth Amendment rights of people employed by the state.
Ready or not America, here comes the King Street Patriots. During its True the Vote summit this past weekend, the Houston, Texas tea party group unveiled plans to roll out a statewide database of voter registration records. Meanwhile, conservative activists said they intend to replicate the Patriots' voter fraud-fighting efforts in other areas of Texas and the U.S., including Florida, California, New Jersey, North Carolina and Washington, D.C.