Florida needs a bit of California, perhaps a glimmer or a concept of programs such as Charge Ahead that was recently sent to Governor Brown to sign or some of the polices that make California a top solar state. Rather than that, Florida (“The Sunshine State”) spends its time drawing strange district lines, in spite a statewide petitioning to do away with gerrymandering; discussing odd and counterproductive Tea Party dreams; and struggling with a Governor who opposes all of Obama’s efforts, even high-speed rail (popular with the business community) and Obamacare. As a swing state, the nation is watching Florida’s next election, and whether or not Rick Scott gets booted.
Charlie Crist is back in the running, and due to his strong stand on green energy and climate policies, he could pull a lot of progressive voters who are fed up with Scott as well as the more moderate conservatives that have for long been his base. Crist has few friends among the state’s large utility corporations. Crist is now a Democrat, once a green Republican, after getting pushed out of the Republican party for not being extreme enough and following the ruling Tea Party line.
He’s up against some big money, with the Florida’s three largest utilities giving money to the re-election campaign of Republican incumbent Governor Rick Scott. This expensive political battle for the nation’s most populous swing state is getting some attention. Rick Scott has funding from big utilities which want to see business as usual (coal, natural gas, and nuclear) as opposed to disruptive solar power.
From Reuters: “According to current state records, Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest electric utility serving 4.6 million customers, over the last year has given a combined $1.2 million to Scott’s political action committee, Let’s Get to Work, and the Republican Party of Florida. Duke Energy contributed another $1.2 million to Scott and the Republican Party… A third company, TECO, contributed $1.15 million to the Republican Party of Florida.”
In regards to Crist’s environmental work, Reuters continues:
As Republican governor between 2007 and 2011, Crist ‘sent shivers through the entire utility system,’ said Colleen Castille, who headed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection under Governor Jeb Bush.
‘Crist was a darling of clean energy advocates, hosting a climate change summit in 2007 alongside another green Republican, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. His focus on clean energy challenged the Florida utilities who are heavily dependent on natural gas and coal, as well as some nuclear.’
Apparently, the utilities aren’t comfortable with the idea of him back in as Governor. Crist’s campaign has not been shown any real support from the utilities. They have contributed a combined $500,000 to the Florida Democratic party. Compared to the $3.55 million from three utilities discussed above, it’s clear which side the utilities are on. “The big utilities aren’t fans of his because, as governor and Attorney General, Charlie Crist stood up to them and fought to keep families’ rates low,” the Crist campaign noted in a statement emailed to Reuters.
“Rick Scott has taken millions of dollars from them and let them hike Floridians’ energy bills and stifle the development of renewable energy,” the letter added.
Many of us wish all this political money for campaigns would go instead to renewables. Seems like California makes more decisions based on what its citizens actually need.
Good luck to us Floridians! We need it.
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