Florida is a funny place. Clearly there is physical Florida with the beaches, the sun, the ‘ritas and the granny bikers. Then there is mindless or rather, official Florida and by that I mean the state and municipal government. Governor Rick Scott has decreed that no government communication or state official can use the words, “Anthropogenic Global Warming” or talk about climate change directly despite the fact that Miami is already under water from sea level rise. If Governor Scott can keep climate change off-shore by not talking about it, then maybe the furious pace of condo development will keep filling Florida’s state coffers. Who cares if the residents will be using luxury cigarette boats to get to the Publix grocery store down the street?
The new trend is to go after regular folks who are trying to do the right thing quietly, on their own property. Rain barrels, foam-flush composting toilets, solar panels…those sorts of things that even the President is begging people to do (okay so that might be part of the problem). Florida wants to discourage even the little steps that encourage sustainable choices that help keep the East Coast attached to the rest of the country. Last year, a news report revealed Cape Coral building code official took a resident to court for living off the grid. Robin Speronis is not living in a shack covered with coconut husks held together with vines. For two decades she’s been teaching herself to live a sustainable lifestyle off the grid and the results look pretty modern and luxurious.
In their indictment of Speronis, a Cape Coral special magistrate ruled in February 2014 that she is breaking an obscure international building code that says it is illegal to not be connected to the municipal water system. Even the town official who cited her said that the code was clearly behind the times and illogical but it was his job to enforce it and so he did. Outrage quickly spread through the blogosphere and made very strange bedfellows between the libertarian and environmental activist nations. Everyone in Sustainability Land came out swinging, saying that this lawsuit was a clear form of political and economic harassment by condo developers and utility companies. Ms. Speronis is the ideal American homeowner of the future with her rain barrels and her solar panels. She’s also a the canary in the Old Energy coal mine.
Electric utilities argue that solar panel users who are off the grid should share in the cost of municipal energy generation and storage because they are part of the community, which enjoys the benefits of electricity production and storage. They drive on roads with street lamps, traffic lights and might use a storm shelter now and then, right? Across America in places like Nevada and California, electric utility-paid government shills are finding ways to make switching to solar and wind energy more expensive for home owners because Old Energy owns the system and wants citizens to pay for the costs of Old Energy as it magically and expensively transitions into New Alternative Energy. Don’t fall for it. You really can fight Big Elec,… er, City Hall. They just don’t want you to.