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Solar News

The Sunshine State Not Living Up To Its Name




More Fallout From No Solar Legislation       

"Build it and they will come." The famous line heard by Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) in the 1989 film "Field of Dreams" may be used to explain the development of the United States' first all solar city. Earlier this year, former NFL linemen Syd Kitson and Kitson & Partners announced plans to begin construction for Babcock Ranch reports the New York Times.

"Kitson is betting heavily that he is going to attract investors, businesses and 45,000 residents to his $2 billion ranch community, which he plans to start building next year. He is promising 19,500 homes, 20,000 permanent jobs, open spaces and plenty of carbon-free megawatts.

" 'Solar is just the first step. Babcock Ranch will be a true living laboratory of the new-energy economy ... where innovative companies can design, build and use the renewable and efficient technologies that customers across the country and around the globe will need.' "

Chief development officer Eric Silagy talked about Florida Power & Light's goals.

"Break ground on the more than $350 million solar PV project as soon as this year, pending regulatory approval. The 75-megawatt generator would be the largest of its kind in the world and supply surplus electricity to the grid. The utility plans to raise electricity costs to pay for the project. The typical residential customer would see his power bill go up by about 20 cents a month."

When Babcock Ranch was announced in April, a dismal economy and failing housing market in Florida were a few of the obstacles facing development. However, recently Florida's legislature has failed to close some loop-holes and provide funding for solar development.

Why the hang up? Because how much of the state's power should come from renewable energy couldn't be agreed upon.

The Miami Herald reports about the state's failings and some of the resulted victims.

"For a year, while the green movement was at its height, Florida environmentalists, new solar companies, utility lobbyists and state regulators spent thousands of hours trying to determine how much of the state's power supply should come from renewable energy sources like solar and wind.

"After sifting through thousands of pages of documents and sitting in lengthy workshops, the Public Service Commission sent its recommendations to the 2009 Legislature. A renewable-energy bill passed the Senate but died in the House. The result: A year of work wasted. Among the major victims: the ballyhooed Babcock Ranch project, which is trying to become the first solar-powered city in the world, and thousands of construction workers who would have been hired to build new power plants."

The Herald Tribune in Sarasota, Florida published a story about one local resident's struggles with becoming solar independent. 

"A Sarasota County rancher and environmentalist spent $500,000 for one of the largest private solar projects in Florida, expecting big savings on energy costs while setting an example for others to follow. But instead of cutting her monthly energy bills from roughly $5,000 to $1,000, Mary Clark's 300-panel solar array has saved little. Florida Power & Light buys the excess energy from Clark's ranch and sells it back to her for twice as much.

"Though legal, the charges reveal flaws in a new state law designed to promote solar power by reimbursing private producers for their excess energy. The Triple J Ranch falls under an archaic 1969 law prohibiting multiple meters from being combined under one bill, and there are nine electric meters on the ranch. Clark's experience underscores the influence those who are against reforming the laws to accommodate those who want to diversify from fossil fuels into more renewable energy sources."