Florida Tea Partiers Revolt Against Renewable Power Legislation

Published March 6, 2012

Florida Tea Partiers and grassroots conservatives are expressing frustration at the state’s Republican-dominated legislature for passing legislation that would ramp up taxpayer subsidies to Solyndra-style renewable power projects.  

Bills Hand Over Subsidies, Preferences 

If signed by Gov. Rick Scott (R), the legislation will require taxpayers to hand over millions of dollars in new renewable power subsidies. The legislation also directs state regulators to give special preferences to expensive renewable power projects while creating additional obstacles for energy companies proposing to build power plants utilizing inexpensive coal and natural gas.

House Bill 7117 and Senate Bill 2094 sailed through their respective chambers nearly unanimously. 

Putnam Calls Bills ‘Modest Step’

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican whom many political observers see as a future candidate for governor, is said to be the political force behind the bills. 

“The primary backer of this bill is Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who in a letter mildly chastised the Legislature for never being serious about renewable energy. He called the bill a ‘modest step’ toward more renewable energy,” the Gulf Coast Business Review reported.

“However weak, though, the legislation is a start in a tough political and economic climate,” said Putnam, quoted in the Business Review.

Grassroots in ‘Uproar’

Grassroots conservatives expressed outrage at the legislation during a February 15-16 Tea Party gathering in the State Capitol building. Norm Knighton told Environment & Climate News “there was a cry and uproar” when grassroots activists from The Villages, a retirement community near Ocala, learned of the legislation during their trip to Tallahassee for the gathering.

The Florida Legislature Tea Party Caucus posted notice of the legislation on its Facebook page as a “Bad Bill Alert.” Notice of the legislation drew dozens of comments from Tea Partiers opposing the bills and vowing to rally against the legislation. 

“When legislators say they are limited-government conservatives and friends of the Tea Party, it is surprising to thereafter see these same legislators voting for government handouts and market interventions on behalf of companies selling expensive, failed energy schemes,” said Tea Party leader Karen Jaroch.

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.