Florida Energy Commission Chairman talks about his group's mandate

06/13/07 Mitch E. Perry
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Last week, the Florida Public Service Commission rejected Florida Power & Light’s plans for a coal-burning plant at the edge of the Everglades. But the utility giant responded quickly, announcing at the end of the week that it is considering a wind-power project for Hutchinson Island that it owns near its St. Lucie nuclear plant. The Palm Beach Post reported today that although wind power creates no pollution, it has an environmental downside – specifically, being detrimental to the safety of birds and bats. That problem is indicative of the choices that the state must make in the future, to handle its growing energy needs, yet also be conscious of NOT contributing to greenhouse gases, which affect climate change.
To deal with where the state should go for its energy, last year the state legislature and Governor Jeb Bush created a 9 member advisory board called the Florida Energy Commission.
It’s chartered with advising the state on how to best establish and secure affordable energy in the future , including the development of alternative sources. Their first report is due at the end of the year. Last week, WMNF spoke with the Chair of the Florida Energy Commission, Tommy . Burroughs. Here are some excerpts from that conversation (roll tape#1 o.q.”long way to catch up”) Burroughs says any and every type of energy source – including wind and solar, and nuclear, is something he and his group is interested in. And to have those sources NOT contribute to greenhouse gas emissions is also part of his group’s mandate. But having said that, Burroughs was confused about the PSC’s rejection of a Florida Power & Light’s coal burning plant near the Everglades last week(roll tape# 2 o.q.”all we do is recommend”)

The Florida Energy Commission has been holding public meetings across the state and will continue to do so until their report is due at the end of the year. Again, its chairman, Tommy Burroughs (roll tape#3 o.q.”everything else”) Meanwhile, the St. Petersburg Times is reporting that Governor Charlie Crist has signed a bill that would Tampa Electric Company to start billing customers in advance of building a special kind of coal plant that emits far fewer pollutants than regular coal plants. The process is called "coal gasification, " and it uses coal to create a clean-burning gas, siphoning off harmful carbon emissions so they don't enter the atmosphere. The bill allows the utility to pass on costs for design, licensing, construction and interest for the $1.5-billion plant once building begins, likely in 2009. TECO already operates a coal-gasification plant in Polk County; this would be its second, about 60 miles from Tampa.

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