Saturday, September 6, 2014

Around Florida: FPL Wants To Pay For Solar Power Through Customer Contributions

Crowd-funding is all the rage for good works in the public service, but the money-seekers usually are individuals or nonprofits, not companies that reported profits of $1.35 billion in 2013.

Florida Power & Light’s proposal to allow its customers to contribute $9 a month voluntarily to help pay for solar-energy projects will be considered by state regulators Tuesday .

FPL says the money would help build and operate “relatively small solar generating facilities,’’ with the size of the projects determined by the amounts of contributions received, according to a Florida Public Service Commission staff analysis that recommends approval of the three-year pilot program.

The analysis said FPL plans to start building solar projects in January 2015 before receiving contributions.

“FPL states that to the extent possible the solar projects will be located in high-visibility areas to further educate customers about and promote solar energy in Florida,’’ the analysis said. Up to 20 percent of the money collected could be spent on marketing and administration.


The legal rulings and fallout over the state’s illegally drawn voting boundaries for congressional districts have been full of surprises. First, a county judge invalidated the Florida voting map, finding that it violated a voter-approved 2010 constitutional amendment that prohibits favoring incumbents or a political party — in this case Republicans. Then the state GOP said it would not appeal Judge Terry Lewis’ ruling. Those eyebrow-raisers were topped last week, when GOP leaders said it had taken them only one day of a special session to come up with a new map that would change seven of Florida’s 29 congressional districts. If the plan holds up, it could be approved by the full Legislature Wednesday.

There’s a reason for the hyper-speed by a body seldom known for that: Lawmakers are prohibited from taking campaign cash while they are in session. Two weeks before primary elections and three months before general elections, the special session gives their opponents, if they have any, the chance to rake in a little extra dough while the incumbents are holed up in the Capitol.

The GOP’s swift decision not to appeal Lewis’ ruling has an explanation, too: Republicans apparently are fearful that a contest of Lewis’ decision could give someone other than themselves control over what the districts should look like.

Amid such political considerations, Senate President Don Gaetz took the high road.

“I think senators of both parties are fulfilling their constitutional responsibility — and that’s more important than running for election; it’s more important than me taking out the cat boxes for Vicky (Gaetz); it’s more important than fundraising or anything else that we might do,” Gaetz said.

Then again, Gaetz’ seat isn’t up for election this year, and he’s in his final term in any case.


Ruling against the Florida Board of Education, an appeals court backed a decision by the Polk County School Board to reject plans for a proposed charter school. The unanimous decision by a the three-judge 2nd District Court of Appeal stems from a state law that allows charter-school operators to replicate high-performing charter schools.

Renaissance Charter School Inc. sought to open a charter school in Polk County and argued its K-8 school was replicating a middle school from Miami-Dade County that served only grades 6-8.

The Polk County School Board rejected the application, but was overruled by the state Board of Education.

The appeals court sided with Polk County, declaring, “The proposed school, composed mostly of kindergarten and elementary grade students, and the middle school on which the application was based neither share the same characteristics, nor are they alike in substance or essentials. Furthermore, nowhere in the record did any representative of Renaissance articulate how the educational program of the high-performing middle school would be replicated so as to serve the students of different age and grade levels.”


The news out of Ocala was more uplifting: The 5-year-old son of a Florida Highway Patrol trooper who died in a car crash is getting a fully funded college scholarship thanks to a foundation formed by the late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

According to the Ocala Star-Banner, officials with the Gold Shield Foundation Inc. told Clayton Valdes and his father Ricardo Valdes that it would pay for room, board, books and tuition. Chelsea Richard died May 3 while investigating a crash on Interstate 75 near Ocala.

Steinbrenner created the foundation to help children and spouses of state law enforcement officers and firefighters who die in the line of duty.


No comments: