The Florida Senate, Nuclear, and the Politics of Energy

Word is out that the Florida Senate is voting today on a bill (PSB 1154) that will allow nuclear energy and clean coal to be included in the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). For those of you who are new to this term, RPS was put together to promote renewable energy within the state.

They are calling the bill, “Clean Portfolio Standard”. The new name is indicative of the inclusion of nuclear energy and clean coal. The irony is that nuclear energy is not renewable and is already subsidized by the people; and the technology has not been developed to make coal clean.

For most of us, the question comes to mind, “Why do we need to have legislation to promote renewable energy? Why can’t we just do it? Renewable energy makes sense. People have been using solar for a long time and the technology of wind and hydro(water) are catching on. So why don’t we just let it develop on it’s own?

But the truth is, there is a lot working against the production of renewable energy. Renewable energy needs funding in order for it to be a viable source of energy. In order for it to be more affordable for the average person, just like the hybrid car, it needs to be produced in mass quantities. Take the computer for example. When computers first were developed, they took up entire rooms and were owned only by large corporations. Eventually, computers were developed down to a size that could be used by everyone. Through mass production, the price also came down. What first used to cost thousands of dollars, now costs only hundreds of dollars for something that is 10 times better than what it used to be. You rarely meet a person who doesn’t own or have access to a computer.

Renewable energy works on the same principle. More demand equals more production, more competition, and better pricing. Renewables will create an industry, jobs, stimulate the economy, fight global warming, and diversify our energy portfolio. It will also help our nations security by dispersing our energy sources throughout the state. That will help keep us from the vulnerability of a terrorist attack. You can’t shut down the state by attacking it’s source of energy when the source of energy is the entire state.

Time is also a factor. Unlike computers, a time table was set by scientists who are working to fight against global warming. There is an immediate need to curb the carbon dioxide that is getting released into the earth’s atmosphere in massive quantities. A global action must take place in order for us to meet these guidelines. Even those who support nuclear energy, never deny the possibilities that renewable energy brings to the climate crisis.

Governor Crist has set a 20% renewable energy goal to be reached by 2020. The RPS has been set up to meet that goal. Supporters of renewable energy are confident that Florida can meet that goal without the inclusion of nuclear energy. The caveat of the senate bill is how it limits nuclear. The bill limits nuclear energy to only 25% of that 20%. So it breaks down to 1/4 of the equation. This is actually good if you are looking for a compromise. And most senators will agree, they want to make everyone happy. Even the coal industry should be happy…despite the fact that they can’t seem to produce the clean coal that they promise.

But is that enough. Do we have to make everyone happy? I would love to eat ice cream every night and start my day with a slice of cheesecake and a cup of coffee. But what will happen if I get just that. I’ll get fat and my teeth will fall out. I’ll be happy, but only for a short time, because my clothes won’t fit and I’ll be miserable. Then I’ll get sick and have to spend a lot of money fixing me. Sound familiar? Replace the word “I” with the “United States” and then replace the words “slice of cheesecake” with “cruise around the block with in my brand new Hummer” and the words “a cup of coffee” with “shop until I drop. Thank you President Bush!” Get the picture. We don’t need people who are going to make everyone happy. Sometimes compromise is not always good for us. Just ask my “Mr. Burn until you cry” personal trainer. He would be more than happy to tell you about paying for your mistakes.

So for all of those who feel that renewable energy needs the same chance to develop as all of the other modern day technologies that have made this world a better place, today is not a great day. In fact, it’s a down right pin in the balloon of optimism. Just when you think you have made some headway, someone comes to you and says “let’s compromise”.

Contact your senators and let them know that there is no compromise when it comes to doing what is right! Florida Senate