The solar power industry and the so-called Green Tea Party suffered a crushing defeat last week as The Villages Tea Party voted overwhelmingly to oppose a Florida constitutional amendment to give the solar power industry special rights to sell power directly to electricity consumers. The vote followed a highly publicized debate between Alexander Snitker, representing the Libertarian Party of Florida, and Heartland Institute Vice President of External Relations James Taylor at The Villages Tea Party’s weekly meeting.
Atlanta-based Green Tea Party founder and solar power activist Debbie Dooley was scheduled to debate Taylor at the June 15 Villages Tea Party meeting, but Dooley called in sick claiming health issues prevented her from debating Taylor.
Unanimous Vote Against Solar
Dooley designated Alexander Snitker to fill in for her at The Villages Tea Party debate. After an hour-long debate, Villages Tea Party president Aileen Milton asked attendees for a show of hands supporting and opposing the proposed amendment. Just one person supported the amendment while 70 people opposed it. Milton later pointed out that the one person who supported the amendment was not a member of The Villages Tea Party, meaning The Villages Tea Party unanimously opposed the proposed amendment.
The unanimous Tea Party opposition to the proposed amendment defies media claims the proposed amendment is widely supported among Florida Tea Parties and Tea Party members and follows the Board of Directors of the Tampa 912 Project voting unanimously to oppose the proposed amendment after Floridians for Solar Choice chairman Tory Perfetti and Taylor debated the issue at a Tampa 912 Project meeting.
Dooley, Perfetti, and Snitker have been the most prominent advocates of a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution that would give the solar power industry monopoly rights to sell electricity to consumers directly from on-site power generation equipment. Environmental activist groups have coordinated with Dooley to schedule public appearances on behalf of solar power throughout the country. Dooley also joined Al Gore at a recent public rally for solar power and global warming activism. Snitker is a former Libertarian Party candidate for the U.S. Senate who now operates the Liberty First Network, an advocacy and lobbying firm. Perfetti is a former Tampa-area politician.
Monopoly Not a Market Solution
The solar power industry and its advocates have been marketing the proposed amendment as a free-market initiative, claiming a new monopoly for the solar power industry regarding on-site electricity sales offers consumers more energy choices. Free market advocates counter that any proposal that designates a single industry sector to operate a newly created monopoly is antithetical to free markets and consumer choice.
“I am not surprised at all that The Villages Tea Party unanimously opposed the proposed constitutional amendment,” said Taylor. “Despite the best efforts of the solar power industry and environmental activists to present the solar power monopoly as a free-market initiative, grassroots conservatives and libertarians understand that government creating a new monopoly for the most expensive and heavily subsidized source of electricity runs counter to limited government, free markets, low taxes, and affordable electricity.”
“When Debbie Dooley learned I was educating my fellow Floridians about the pitfalls of granting the solar power industry a new and special monopoly, she sent me unsolicited emails from Atlanta threatening to publicly ‘expose’ me and saying she would debate me anytime, anywhere on the topic,” Taylor explained. “When I suggested debating her in front of her small group of supporters in Atlanta, she refused to do so. When I followed up by accepting an invitation from The Villages Tea Party to debate her in Florida, she failed to show up. Will Dooley will ever back up her gratuitous bluster?”
*Editor’s note: The initial version of this story indicated Alexander Snitker is a lobbyist whose firm lobbies for solar power. In an email to Environment & Climate News, Snitker acknowledges he is president of a lobbying firm but says he himself is not a lobbyist and his his firm does not lobby for solar power and does not take positions on ballet initiatives.
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is a research fellow with The Heartland Institute.