SOLAR ENERGY; Look to the Sun

Article excerpt

Florida TaxWatch is no group of radicals.

This independent, nonpartisan think tank is a watchdog for the taxpayers' precious dollars.

Therefore, its new report on the positive economic impact of solar energy in Florida speaks volumes.

Really, we shouldn't need to be told. We are the Sunshine State, right?

So why are the cold weather climates of Germany overseas and New Jersey in the United States leading the way with solar energy?

It takes a few incentives and a critical mass to create a market. Yet, we know the market is here.

The fuel for solar energy is free. And this state has a lot of it. Florida does not receive the amount of sunshine as some of the desert states in the West.

Still, there are 361 days of sunshine per year in Florida, more than enough sunlight to justify investments. In fact, that's more than enough to justify Florida as a leader.

Here are some of the key points made in the TaxWatch report:

Trained workforce: Installing solar units requires construction workers. Florida has plenty who need work.

University leadership: Research is provided by The Solar Energy Center at the University of Central Florida and the Florida Institute for Sustainable Energy at the University of Florida.

Friendly market: Florida historically welcomes growth and innovation. Getting the solar energy started should lead to economies of scale, lower prices, more innovation - a positive economic cycle.

The result: Permanent, high-paying jobs. If Florida installed 1,500 megawatts of solar energy, the result will be 45,000 direct jobs and 50,000 indirect jobs, the National Renewable Energy Lab estimates. …