Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Confused? the Utilities Don't Need Extra Help

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Confused? the Utilities Don't Need Extra Help

Article excerpt

COMMENTARY

The next time big electric companies seek a rate hike to squeeze more money out of Floridians, someone has got to throw this in their face: Those companies must already have money to burn, because they are spending an impressive hunk on ads to con us.

According to reports by the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald, big electric companies in Florida are spending $20 million dollars to promote Amendment 1.

You've probably seen part of the ad blitz those millions have paid for. They falsely and unabashedly portray the proposal as supporting solar power.

It doesn't.

The real aim is exactly the opposite. As I've said before, the amendment's whole point is to impose fees and make it more costly and less attractive for homeowners and businesses to install solar panels, which take some kilowatt sales away from the fossil-fuel electricity plants.

The ballot language is misleading enough by itself. It takes knowledge and careful reading to have a clue that the proposal would actually undermine expansion of solar power. But the language in the TV ads? That just flat out lies in an even more blatant effort to trick solar power enthusiasts.

By far, most Floridians fall into that pro-solar category, polls show. The power companies know that, and know their only chance is tricking people into thinking a yes vote supports solar.

Even with many environmental groups campaigning against Amendment 1 and blowing the whistle on the scammy ad campaign, I have no idea whether the word has reached enough voters to prevent the subterfuge from working. The ad campaign is really well done.

Too bad one environmental group has now accidentally added to the confusion.

Shirley Secord, a reader who already knew Amendment 1 is really anti-solar power, got a mailer that urged her to support Amendment 1, and it puzzled her because of its source: The Florida Wildlife Federation.

That organization is actually adamantly opposed to Amendment 1. Its website makes quite

a point of that.

And yet, Secord told me, "On the outside of the envelope in bold red capital letters were the words "HELP US DEFEND AMENDMENT 1."

She showed it to me and she called the organization, either to ask why they were on that side or to let them know their name was being misused by someone. …

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