McCollum energy plan would force solar, wind to compete

Attorney General Bill McCollum said Friday that as governor he will promote nuclear, biomass and “clean coal” to diversify Florida’s energy supply, and that solar, wind and ocean energy should have to compete in the private sector to bring costs down.

The Republican candidate for governor joins the growing list of candidates for statewide office who have submitted plans to create jobs in the energy sector. McCollum’s five-page energy plan appears to be an about-face from the policies promoted by Gov. Charlie Crist soon after he took office in 2007.

Crist proposed a 20-percent renewable energy requirement for utilities, while opposing coal plants that utilities also described as “clean coal.” A bill containing a similar renewable energy requirement was adopted by the Senate in 2009, but the House refused to take up the bill.

McCollum instead proposes a “two-tiered” approach to renewable energy, without making reference to a renewable energy requirement. Florida’s energy needs will increase 76 percent in the next 20 years, according to the McCollum plan. Florida should be more aggressive in using “abundant” renewable energy resources such as biomass, the plan said.

However, according to the plan, energy from solar, wind and ocean currents “must be subject to free market forces to drive down their cost and reach parity with traditional energy sources.” Biomass includes burning garbage, trees and waste wood.

While Crist at one time championed the state’s role in combatting climate change, McCollum says he would oppose federal cap-and-trade legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink earlier this week released a plan that called for requiring an unspecified amount of renewable energy while no-party candidate Bud Chiles earlier proposed a 20-percent requirement.

(Story provided by the Florida Tribune. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting