Florida Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Crist believes solar power makes good scientific and economic sense for Florida because the state calls itself the Sunshine State. According to a National Public Radio article yesterday criticizing Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, Crist said DeSantis should be “encouraging renewables such as wind energy, solar energy, and particularly solar. I mean, my goodness, we’re the Sunshine State.”
Crist’s comment, in which a state tourist nickname equals sound science and energy policy, calls to mind Democrats gleefully mocking 2008 vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin for saying, “you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska.”
Florida’s state nickname actually is the Sunshine State, just as you can actually see Russia from land in Alaska. Alaska’s proximity to Russia doesn’t necessarily make somebody a foreign policy expert or a Russian expert, just as a catchy state nickname designed to attract tourists doesn’t necessarily qualify as sound science or sound energy policy.
As anybody who has ever lived in Florida knows, extensive clouds and thunderstorms build up and blanket the state most afternoons during the warm season, when electricity demand is at its highest. The cloudiness means Florida’s solar power potential trails that of much more northerly states like Wyoming.
The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy, using U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory data, has published a ranking of states according to their suitability for solar power. Despite its tourist-targeted nickname, Florida barely cracked the top 10.
Sorry, Charlie, but state nicknames don’t qualify as sound science or energy policy, even for career politicians who change parties and political positions as frequently as the wind changes direction.