Tavares, FL - June 12, 2012
Florida Tea Party Network representatives met with Florida Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam to understand why he supported HB-7117, an energy bill that will cost Florida taxpayers over $8-billion to subsidize "alternative" energy sources like wind and solar. it became law on April 14, 2012 without a requested veto from Gov. Scott. Thus your energy costs will go up more in the future to subsidize more costly wind & solar energy that is not reliable.
The bill shifts energy surtaxes to selected recipients of residential and commercial property owners who make retrofits desired by GOVERNMENT (not market based). This is a typical Federal objectives "green" bill that uses tax funds to subsidize gvoernment desired "sustainable development" goals. The bill should be killed. Read BOTH of the Tea Party Network reports below and remember that when you are asked to vote for Adam Putnam in the future.
Here is a link to Putnam's Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services webpage:
Here is a link to the Florida Senate Info page on HB-7117
Here is the link to two reports from the Tea Party Network representatives, or read the entire text below.
Report on Meeting with Commissioner Putnam on Energy Bill HB7117 – by John Collins
Norman Knighton of CLA, James Taylor of The Heartland Institute and myself of The Gainesville Tea Party met with Commissioner Putnam on May 15. He was to give us information that would tell us how Florida was going to be so much better off because of HB7117. Governor Scott did not
Putnam's big concern is fuel diversity. At present, 50% of Florida's electricity is produced from natural gas. He said that we almost ran out of gas during hurricane Katrina. Two pipe lines originating in Louisiana supply natural gas to Florida. It was pointed out that “almost” is no reason to promote HB7117. HB7117 will drive up the the cost of Florida's electricity an addition 8 billion dollars a year. It was also pointed out if our electric cost's were at Georgia's rate, Florida's economy would save $6 billion or $850.00 dollars per house hold. If it were at Louisiana's rate, Florida's economy would save $10 billion or $1400 dollars per house hold. How does this additional cost look to someone wanting to start a business in Florida?
Commissioner Putnam also stated he liked nuclear power. He was asked if he had studied the information on Thorium, which we provided to him at our last meeting. He said he had, but there is no mention of it in this bill as an alternative. Thorium is the safe alternative of nuclear power. Link provided if you are interested. http://www.thoriumenergyalliance.com/downloads/TEAC3%20presentations/TEAC3_Sorensen_Kirk.pdf
Putnam said coal is the cheapest, but is off the table because of the present federal administration. Because of this, plants are being converted to gas further offsetting the balance and driving up the cost. Here is a break down of the competing power source cost's per KWH which we provided to Putnam. This further proved to him we are not in the dark as much as we are accused of being: Coal $.0379, clean coal $.0437, natural gas $.0561, nuclear $.0594, wind $.0664, solar thermal $.1882, and solar photovoltaic $.3739. Commissioner Putnam stated,” Wind is not reliable”. We said “Florida is not rated nearly as high as other parts of the United States for a constant solar source”. Why are we subsidizing sources in HB7117 that are not reliable as well as very costly?
Putnam said the bill does not pick winner and losers. He had to back off that statement. He redefined by saying,” HB7117 does not pick winners and loser between the technologies”. Go figure.
This issue is not dead by along shot. I ask each of you to help out. Please send your thoughts and ideas to me. Also keep calling your legislature and Governor Scott. This issue must be pursued!
Report on Meeting with Commissioner Putnam – James Taylor
The following is a supplement to John Collins’ notes, above, on our meeting with Commissioner Putnam.
John Collins, Norm Knighton, and I met with Florida Department of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on May 15 in Commissioner Putnam’s office. Commissioner Putnam had two staffers attend the meeting with him. The topic was Commissioner Putnam’s support for H.B. 7117, which Tea Party groups oppose for (1) authorizing $100 million in new subsidies to renewable energy companies, (2) directing state regulators to view renewable power projects with special favor, and (3) authorizing local governments to impose new taxes and fees to hand over to the renewable energy industry, among other recipients. The tone of the meeting was cordial and Commissioner Putnam was very generous with his time, giving us a full 45 minutes.
In advance of the meeting, Commissioner Putnam’s office asked John Collins, who requested the meeting, for the names of the people who would be attending with him. He said hello to us at the outset, asked us where we reside in Florida, and then jumped right into the issues without ever asking us our names.
Commissioner Putnam began the meeting by explaining that Rep. Scott Plakon believes opposition to H.B. 7117 and its renewable energy preferences/subsidies “is not organic” – the implication being that out-of-state forces have unduly influenced Florida Tea Party groups and grassroots citizen organizations to oppose H.B. 7117. Norm Knighton quickly and earnestly replied that opposition to H.B. 7117 is indeed organic within Florida Tea Party groups, and that such opposition is deep and widespread.
Commissioner Putnam then presented five justifications for his support of H.B. 7117, with give-and-take occurring regarding each justification:
1. Commissioner Putnam said that even if we object to the renewable energy preferences of H.B. 7117, the bill still does more good than harm. Most importantly, said Commissioner Putnam, H.B. 7117 rescinds previously granted legislative authority for the state to impose renewable power mandates.
I replied that the legislature could easily have rescinded its previously granted authority for the state to impose renewable power mandates without imposing the costly new renewable energy subsidies in H.B. 7117. I also pointed out that the legislative authority for renewable power mandates was a paper tiger, in that no concrete action had ever been taken by state officials to impose such a mandate, and no such concrete action would have occurred any time in the foreseeable future. I also pointed out that even in states that have imposed renewable power mandates, few of those states actually enforce them.
2. Commissioner Putnam said that Rep. Plakon and he found it curious that Tea Party groups included H.B. 7117 among the four bills which Tea Party groups asked Gov. Rick Scott to exercise a veto. Commissioner Putnam said the $100 million price tag of the renewable power subsidies was quite small compared to the costs of the other three bills that had garnered Tea
Party opposition. In comparison to these other bills, Putnam said, the $100 million price tag of H.B. 7117 was relatively insignificant.
I replied that a bad bill is a bad bill, regardless of the costs. I also noted that $100 million seems like quite a lot of money to me and to other Florida taxpayers. I further noted, on a more tangible front, that the costs of H.B. 7117 are much higher than the $100 million in direct subsidies to the renewable energy industry. Far more expensive, I explained, will be the higher electricity bills paid by Florida consumers as a result of H.B. 7117 reducing the mix of affordable coal and natural gas electricity while increasing the mix of expensive solar and biomass. I pointed out that Floridians already pay several billion dollars more for our electricity than would be the case if we paid the same electricity prices as citizens in neighboring states. I noted that this already amounts to several hundred dollars per household per year in higher electricity costs, and that H.B. 7117 will further escalate electricity costs, in addition to the $100 million in direct handouts to the renewable energy industry, by forcing Florida consumers to purchase a greater amount of expensive renewable energy.
3. Commissioner Putnam said that H.B. 7117 is justified because Florida’s status as a peninsula without its own coal and natural gas resources means Floridians must pay higher prices for coal and natural gas than neighboring states, such as Georgia.
I replied that according to U.S. Energy Information Administration statistics, the cost of producing coal electricity in Florida is less than the price in Georgia. Regardless, I added, the more important issue is whether the cost of coal and natural gas electricity is more expensive than that of renewable energy alternatives. Whether or not coal or natural gas electricity is more expensive in one state or another, in Florida – as in all other states – it costs substantially more to produce power from solar, wind, or biomass than it does to produce power from coal or natural gas.
4. Commissioner Putnam said H.B. 7117 is justified as a hedge against natural gas price spikes. Commissioner Putnam said the price of natural gas is prone to substantial price swings, as evidenced by the wellhead price of natural gas costing as much as $10 per thousand cubic feet in 2006 versus $2 today.
I replied that the temporary spike in natural gas prices in 2006 occurred before the recent shale gas revolution. With recent discoveries of abundant domestic natural gas resources and the development of new, affordable technologies to recover the natural gas, the United States has enough natural gas to power us for at least a century, and probably multiple centuries to come. Also, because natural gas is much more difficult to ship overseas than oil, natural gas prices are minimally affected by overseas political or economic developments. As a result of these factors, I observed, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that natural gas prices will remain low and relatively stable for at least the next several decades.
Finally, I noted that even when natural gas prices spiked before the shale gas revolution, natural gas prices still never approached the high prices of renewable energy. While temporary price spikes were economically inconvenient during the short periods when they occurred, the
economy was still better off functioning on natural gas even during these short price spikes than would have been the case if we were dependent on still-more-expensive renewable energy.
5. Commissioner Putnam acknowledged at this point that natural gas will always be less expensive than renewable power. He asserted, however, that adding more expensive renewable energy to the state’s power mix is justified because there are only two pipelines delivering natural gas to the state and the state risks running out of power if the pipelines are ever disrupted. Commissioner Putnam said that such an event almost occurred in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
I pointed out that Florida’s supply of natural gas has never been interrupted. I additionally pointed out that having two major hurricanes strike each of the two separate origination sites of Florida’s two natural gas pipelines was a worst case scenario that is unlikely to ever occur again. Even so, the flow of natural gas through the pipelines was never interrupted, even though hurricane preparations at the time were lax and the pipelines were then using outdated technologies. Forcing consumers to pay substantially higher electricity prices every year and millions of dollars in subsidies to renewable power companies is too high a price to pay as a hedge against the incredibly low likelihood of a very short interruption in Florida’s natural gas supply, I observed.
(As a side note, since our meeting with Commissioner Putnam I have learned that all other states that have significant amounts of natural gas in their electricity mix have constructed and maintained natural gas storage facilities that contain enough natural gas to meet the state’s electricity needs in the unlikely event of an interruption in natural gas supplies like the one feared by Commissioner Putnam. This seems like a much more affordable and effective means of safeguarding Florida’s electricity than forcing taxpayers to pay substantially higher prices for renewable energy. Also, the same natural disasters that could conceivably affect natural gas supplies would similarly affect solar equipment facilities and biomass equipment facilities, although storing solar and biomass power is much more difficult than storing natural gas.)
The meeting concluded on friendly terms, and each of us thanked Commissioner Putnam for giving us so much of his time.