Expand use of nuclear power and alternative fuels
"As governor, Rick will work toward energy independence from foreign oil with the expansion of nuclear power, the use of alternative fuels and ensure that we can drill for oil safely.”
Scott opposed bill designed to boost renewable fuels
Updated: Thursday, January 5th, 2012 | By Becky Bowers
Rick Scott promised during his campaign to work toward independence from foreign oil.
Through expansion of nuclear power, the use of alternative fuels and pursuit of safe oil drilling, campaign spokesman Joe Kildea said in September 2010.
We're separately tracking Scott's promise to explore expansion of domestic drilling in a safe, environmentally sound way, so this update will focus on nuclear power and alternative fuels.
How might the governor take action?
In Florida, the five-member Public Service Commission regulates investor-owned utilities based on state law set by the Legislature and governor. The governor appoints commissioners, who are confirmed by the Senate. Scott chose to reappoint four commissioners in his first year: Art Graham, Ronald Brise, Eduardo Balbis and Julie Brown.
A governor might also lead through legislative proposals. But Scott won't be proposing an energy bill for the 2012 legislative session, according to the Florida Current.
Here's how the state's energy production looks right now, according to the PSC: It's generated primarily by natural gas, followed by coal and nuclear. Other sources make up just 15 percent of the state's energy generation. By 2019, those three big categories are expected to gobble up an even greater portion of the pie, with more than 50 percent of our energy from natural gas, more than 26 percent from coal and more than 15 percent from nuclear.
Has the governor worked to expand nuclear power and that tiny category, "other"?
He did reappoint a commissioner, Graham, who trumpets an expanded role for nuclear power. But Graham, who chairs the commission, also said he's more interested in cheap energy based on fossil fuels than in alternative energy. That's potential help for half of Scott's promise, but not the other half.
Meanwhile, the governor has also:
• Opposed a bill that would have let investor-owned utilities charge ratepayers up to an additional 2 percent of their annual revenue for renewable energy. It would have allowed utilities to raise customer bills to cover investments in renewable energy. It failed for a third straight legislative session in April 2011.
• Named an energy adviser, Mary Bane, to produce a state energy plan. It was projected to be done by late summer 2011, but such a policy is still in the works, according to the Governor's Office. "Gov. Scott feels a comprehensive energy policy for Florida is something that is needed for the state," spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said.
So it's not yet clear what action Scott plans in support of nuclear power and alternative fuels.
"He has been very non-forthcoming on any energy-related policy," said Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon of Florida, told PolitiFact Florida for an update on Scott's promise to explore expansion of oil drilling. "It's like the disappearing energy policy."
Susan Glickman, a long-time clean energy lobbyist in Tallahassee, said Scott "has really not done anything to build more nuclear power plants."
And alternative fuels?
"He has done zero in that regard," she said.
We asked his Governor's Office for an update on this promise, and got this written response: "This promise is In the Works. Gov. Scott believes a clear, strategic energy policy is needed to guide our decisions for a secure and sustainable energy future."
Given the lack of detail, we don't agree with the Governor's Office's self-assessment that his promise is In the Works.
Since Scott opposed one bill designed to boost renewable fuels, and we're still waiting on his state energy plan, this promise for now rates Stalled.
Email interview with Jackie Schutz, spokeswoman for Governor's Office, Dec. 9-19, 2011
Gov. Rick Scott's Communications Office, written responses to PolitiFact's questions about the Scott-O-Meter, Dec. 28, 2011
Interview with Susan Glickman, clean energy lobbyist, Dec. 16, 2011
Email interview with Scott Hempling, Georgetown law professor, former executive director of the National Regulatory Research Institute, Dec. 17, 2011
PolitiFact Florida Scott-O-Meter, "Not much has happened on safe oil drilling promise," Dec. 29, 2011
Florida Public Service Commission, "Facts & Figures of the Florida Utility Industry," March 2011
Florida Public Service Commission, "Florida Public Service Commissioner History," accessed Dec. 16, 2011
Public Utility Research Center, University of Florida, "Addressing the Level of Florida's Electricity Prices," Sept. 28, 2011
St. Petersburg Times' Venture blog, "At PSC, chairman Graham's mantra for governing energy world is keep it cheap, keep it basic," Aug. 3, 2011
St. Petersburg Times, "PSC chairman: Nuclear remains big part of state's energy future," Aug. 3, 2011
Florida Current, "2012 Session Outlook: Utilities and Energy," Dec. 28, 2011
Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog, "Renewables bill dies of its own weight -- for the third consecutive year," April 26, 2011
Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog, "Scott to weigh in on energy policy with less conservation, more renewables," June 23, 2011