Protests and praise for Obama in Arcadia
Hear what people had to say outside ...
I was on vacation last week and even I knew the president was in Florida.
After President Barack Obama’s visit to Arcadia to christen FP&L’s new solar power plant, Gov. Charlie Crist told reporters he was unaware of the president’s trip.
I’m not sure which is worse: A governor who, for political reasons wants no part of appearing with a president he was happy to stand beside just nine months prior in order to endorse a $787 billion stimulus but who now criticizes the man for having “the same tired answers to every problem, to spend more of our money”; or, a governor who really doesn’t know when the president is in his state.
Wouldn’t a presidential visit come up in a routine briefing, if for no other reason than to coordinate between state police and the Secret Service? Imagine if something terrible had happened to the president and the governor not being able to answer questions about security because he wasn’t even aware the president was in Florida.
While we’re on the subject of the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center, as it is called, a quick reality check on the status of solar power as a viable alternative to fossil fuels.
The 25-megawatt facility cost $128 million to build. It will produce enough electricity to supply 3,000 homes.
In contrast, a new 1,150 megawatt gas-powered plant in Miami-Dade County cost $600 million and produces enough electricity for about 230,000 homes. For roughly five times the construction cost, the gas-powered plant generates 46 times more power and feeds 77 times as many households.
The array of solar panels at the Arcadia plant covers 180 acres. To generate as much power as the Miami-Dade County gas-fired plant, you’d have to have solar panels over 8,280 acres. That’s an area about the size of the entire City of Naples.
That’s not to say the Arcadia plant is a bad idea.
Before there was the Boeing 747 there was the Wright Brothers’ flyer. The purpose of the flyer wasn’t to move hundreds of people across continents, but rather to learn how to fly.
Solar power plants like one in Arcadia and another, larger one planned for Charlotte County, are more experimental than practical. Through them scientists may develop more efficient solar panels and better ways of storing power for times when the sun isn’t shining.
But even with free fuel via the sun, solar plants aren’t competitive with fossil fuels. FP&L will get a 30 percent tax credit, meaning its corporate tax bill will be reduced by about $38 million, just for building the Arcadia plant. Those incentives, rather than any real prospect of replacing fossil fuels in the near term, are what get solar plants built.
It is important to keep that in mind as the state and nation consider questions of offshore oil exploration and nuclear power plant construction over the next 10 or 20 years.
Connect with Brent Batten at http://www.naplesnews.com/staff/brent_batten/