Florida’s Crony Energy Bill Benefits from ‘Flying Under the Radar’

Published April 19, 2012

A lobbyist whose clients benefited from Florida H.B. 7117, the Crony Energy Bill, is quoted in the Lakeland Ledger as saying the just-completed Florida legislative session was the “best session” for his clients in a long time because votes on important issues “flew under the radar.”

H.B. 7117 gives a staggering $100 million in taxpayer subsidies to the renewable energy industry during the next five years. The Crony Energy Bill also directs state legislators to give special preference to expensive wind and solar power while placing new obstacles in the path of affordable natural gas and coal power. The Crony Energy Bill further authorizes local governments to impose their own taxes and fees on consumers and turn over the proceeds to renewable energy companies.

The Crony Energy Bill was indeed flying completely under the radar, passing unanimously through legislative committees without any attention from the press or any public debate, until the Heartland Institute learned of it and began alerting grass-roots organizations throughout the state. By the time the legislature passed the Crony Energy Bill and sent it to Gov. Rick Scott, thousands of citizens expressed their outrage, gathering at rallies to oppose the bill and inundating Scott with phone calls and emails urging him to veto the bill.

Scott eventually let the bill become law without his signature, taking the highly unusual step of issuing a public statement expressing strong reservations against the bill’s handouts to the renewable power industry.

Republican House member Scott Plakon (R-Longwood), the legislature’s most ardent supporter of the Crony Energy Bill, appears to be enraged that citizens are finally learning about the specifics of the bill. Multiple Florida citizens, while asking to remain anonymous, have told Environment & Climate News that Plakon is calling leading opponents of the Crony Energy Bill liars and has pledged to forbid them from ever entering his office and expressing their concerns about the bill. When asked what specific lies Plakon is alleging, Environment & Climate News‘s sources said Plakon did not identify any particular lies.