cartoon by Chan Lowe, South Florida Sun Sentinel

FPL asks ratepayers for solar "donation" (August 14, 2014)

I’m just another simple-minded FPL ratepayer, but I do have a vivid imagination.

 

I close my eyes and conjure a tinted-glass high-rise office building in Juno Beach that is the headquarters of Florida Power & Light. There’s a big corner office on the top floor with a majestic view of the sea, and in its muted, carpeted confines a handful of smartly Gucci’d energy executives sprawl in high wingback leather chairs. They’re arrayed in a semicircle around a wall display of carved heads of the Florida Public Service Commission mounted on plaques like bucks bagged on a hunting expedition.

 

One of the execs thoughtfully swirls his tumbler of single-malt scotch and says, “Listen, that opportunistic pest Charlie Crist is whipping up the peons, shoveling a lot of palaver about how the Sunshine State should be using more solar. He conveniently forgets that we’ve got a fortune invested in nuclear and natural gas.”

 

Another one nods and grimaces into his drink. The mood is lugubrious. Suddenly, a light bulb appears over the head of a third. “I’ve got it!” he says. “Everybody’s worried about rising sea levels and global warming and all that stuff. Let’s throw the tree huggers a bone and allow them to help wean us off nuclear and fossil fuels. We’ll make it sound like a donation to save Mother Earth, but in fact they’ll get nothing but happy talk in return!”

 

“Look, thanks to public apathy, we’ve already wangled ourselves a permanent license to print money,” says a fourth, “but I don’t think even our customers are stupid enough to hand over nine extra bucks a month when they could use it toward paying for their own rooftop solar panels.”

They ponder this conundrum for a few moments. “Hold on,” says a fifth. “Why don’t we just bury it in with all those other incomprehensible taxes and fees we tack onto their monthly bills? We’ll call it “voluntary,” but it’ll be opt-out. Most people won’t even realize they’re paying it!  We can use some of it as “contributions” to bribe a few non-profit environmental groups to keep their yaps shut, and blow the rest to paint the Turkey Point cooling towers environmental green!”

 

“Brilliant!” says another. There are high-fives slapped all around. To celebrate, one of them goes over to the wall thermostat and turns the A.C. down to a comfortable 50 degrees.