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NYT Applauds Solar Farm On FL Wetlands

A telling tidbit we almost missed, having been tucked away in the “Business” section of the New York Times:

The Newest Hybrid Model

By JAD MOUAWAD

March 4, 2010

INDIANTOWN, Fla. — In former swamplands teeming with otters and wild hogs, one of the nation’s biggest utilities is running an experiment in the future of renewable power.

Across 500 acres north of West Palm Beach, the FPL Group utility is assembling a life-size Erector Set of 190,000 shimmering mirrors and thousands of steel pylons that stretch as far as the eye can see. When it is completed by the end of the year, this vast project will be the world’s second-largest solar plant.

But that is not its real novelty. The solar array is being grafted onto the back of the nation’s largest fossil-fuel power plant, fired by natural gas. It is an experiment in whether conventional power generation can be married with renewable power in a way that lowers costs and spares the environment

For solar power, scale is still a relative term. At its peak, the solar plant will be able to generate 75 megawatts of power, enough for about 11,000 homes. But that is dwarfed by the adjacent gas plant, which can produce about 3,800 megawatts of power. (A megawatt is enough to power a Wal-Mart store.) ..

Mark Brownstein, an energy and grid specialist at the Environmental Defense Fund, praised FPL’s innovative thinking. “When we talk about getting to a low-carbon, clean-energy economy,” he said, “we know there is not going to be a single technology that is going to transform the industry.”

Currently, 29 states require utilities to increase the amount of power produced from renewable energy, which includes solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal and biomass. Last year, Congress considered a federal mandate for 25 percent of renewable power by 2025 as part of its energy and climate legislation. (The bill has since stalled.)

Utilities have been scrambling to meet the state requirements, and many will not be met, according to electrical utility experts.

While renewable power is growing, its share of the nation’s electrical generation remains small. Wind power, which has surged in recent years, accounts for less than 2 percent of the nation’s electrical output. Solar is even smaller. Coal, meanwhile, generates half of the nation’s electrical output, followed by natural gas and nuclear energy

Notice how The Times buries the minor detail that solar energy does not produce any meaningful contribution to the nation’s power supply. Nor is it likely to, anytime in the foreseeable future.

(Indeed, the author cannot even bring himself to cite the minuscule figures for solar power, which are less than a percent of a percent.)

But more importantly, notice the blatant hypocrisy on display here.

If these 500 (plus) acres of Florida “swamplands teeming with otters and wild hogs” were being covered by anything than a solar power plant the New York Times would be screaming bloody murder.

In fact, these acres would be called ‘wetlands’ and not ‘swamplands.’ And we would hear endlessly about how vital they are to Florida’s eco-system.

But the New York Times has its priorities.

And their priorities have nothing to do with saving wildlife, and everything to do with crippling our nation’s energy supply.

Indeed, from the self-same New York Times that cheers building a solar farm on swampland we have:

In Deal on Everglades, a Dream Is Deferred‎

By DON VAN NATTA Jr. and DAMIEN CAVE

March 7, 2010

When Gov. Charlie Crist announced Florida’s $1.75 billion plan to save the Everglades by buying out a major landowner, United States Sugar, he declared that the deal would be remembered as a public acquisition “as monumental as the creation of the nation’s first national park, Yellowstone.”

Standing amid the marshes at the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in June 2008, Mr. Crist said, “I can envision no better gift to the Everglades, the people of Florida and the people of America — as well as our planet — than to place in public ownership this missing link that represents the key to true restoration.”

Nearly two years later, the governor’s ambitious plan to reclaim the river of grass, as the famed wetlands are known, is instead on track to rescue the fortunes of United States Sugar.

The proposal was downsized only five months after it was announced. By April 2009, amid the deepening recession, the state said it could afford to purchase only 72,800 acres of United States Sugar’s land, for $536 million. The company would stay in business and the state would retain the option of buying the remaining 107,000 acres at a future date.

United States Sugar dictated many of the terms of the deal as state officials repeatedly made decisions against the immediate needs of the Everglades and the interests of taxpayers, an examination of thousands of state e-mail messages and records and more than 60 interviews showed.

Efforts to restore the Everglades have picked up urgency in the last decade: the sprawling subtropical wetland, the only ecosystem of its kind, is dying for lack of clean water. Many environmentalists remain convinced that Mr. Crist’s deal with United States Sugar, even in its downsized form, offers the Everglades its best hope.

But documents and interviews suggest that the price tag and terms of the deal could set back Everglades restoration for years, or even decades

It looks to us like the obvious way to please the New York Times and the rest of the so-called ‘environmentalists’ would be to cover the Everglades with solar panels.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, March 8th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

3 Responses to “NYT Applauds Solar Farm On FL Wetlands”

  1. JohnMG says:

    Hmmm. Even if the ambitious goal of having 25% of electrical power generated from renewable sources by 2025 was feasible—even if every application for permit to construct the wind, solar, and geothermal apparatus was ready for submission, the sheer mass of environmental impact studies necessary for final approval couldn’t be completed, much less the construction itself completed before the deadline.

    The whole scheme is a loser. If alternative energy was viable as an alternative to coal, natural gas, and nuclear, the private sector and free-enterprise capitalism would be have already claimed the prize. Stand by for HUGE government subsidies (e.g. ethanol/bio-diesel, etc) to underwrite the huge gap between competitive market price and real costs of production. And you all know who picks up the tab for this foolishness.

    As for the massive canopies of mirrors—have you ever had a bird or other creature run into your glass patio door? Where are all the animal rights advocates?

    ‘Nuff said?

  2. proreason says:

    “But the New York Times has its priorities.

    And their priorities have nothing to do with saving wildlife, and everything to do with crippling our nation’s energy supply.”

    There’s the whole story.

  3. bgdgjohn says:

    never mind that they are buying swampland in Florida for 7 million an acre. If they are going to buy real estate at that price it should be in South Beach


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