Friday, September 28, 2007

It's not impossible

What do utilities who really are serious about being a leading resource for improving quality of life do?

They don't build coal plants; instead they do this:

...Florida Power & Light officials unveiled plans Wednesday to build Florida's first large-scale solar thermal power plant, one of the largest such plants in the world.

The 300-megawatt facility is part of a $2.4-billion investment aimed at cutting the carbon dioxide emissions believed to cause global warming. Gov. Charlie Crist joined former President Clinton for the announcement in New York, once again stepping outside his Republican allegiances in the name of reversing climate change.

"Producing solar energy in the Sunshine State just makes sense," Crist told the crowd at at the Clinton Global Initiative, which draws world leaders, celebrities and scholars for three days of panel discussions and smaller working sessions on global issues and asks them to take concrete steps on those causes....

The investment includes $1.5-billion for a 300-megawatt solar thermal facility in Florida, and an additional 200 megawatts of solar thermal power tentatively slated for California. It also includes $500-million for a "smart network" that will help its 4.5-million customers better manage their power use, and $400-million over five years for a nationwide education program....

The facility will avoid emitting nearly 11-million tons of carbon dioxide over two decades, according to FPL estimates.

Could this kind of plant meet Santee Cooper's projected need? Its likely. Is it appropriate to ask Santee Cooper to build this kind of plant instead of a dirty coal plant? Maybe. In fact, no one is asking Santee Cooper to demonstrate this kind of leadership and vision. Instead, folks at last night's Scoping meeting in Florence asked that S-C look at much simpler alternatives, such as energy efficiency and proven renewable resources.

But if Santee Cooper announced plans tomorrow for their own 300MW solar thermal plant, I know I wouldn't complain -- and the State of South Carolina would have a lot to be thankful for, because they'd know that theres a state agency out there that is genuinely interested in improving its citizens' quality of life.

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