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Monday, August 11, 2008

Bad Idea at a Bad Time

The apparent energy "crisis" has supplanted all other pressing national and local matters in a manner not seen since those insufferable gas lines of the 1970s. From concerned scientist, to engineers, to environmentalists, to the average consumer and finally to the clearly despotic federal government, all have joined a world-wide debate that is growing in complexity minute by minute.

The myriad myopic sound-byte solutions to the energy problem echo hollow:

  • Nuclear (takes too long to build and what to do with the spent fuel is being misrepresented – besides, what transportation vehicle is propelled by a nuclear reactor?);
  • Oil (we – as in America – are sitting on a vast store but with suffocated refining capacity, environmental Nazis controlling the majority in congress and no one in the White House, bringing these billions of barrels to market seems like a manned mission to Pluto);
  • Oil Shale (although already in limited use by the military, there are serious physics and engineering problems to be worked out);
  • Coal & Natural Gas (still waiting for that coal powered car, and despite decades of using natural gas in vehicles, not one automobile manufacturer produces a stock natural gas-propelled car);
  • Ethanol (the biggest farce perpetrated on the American people since the 19th century giveaways to the railroad barons);
  • Wind and Solar (not economically feasible, especially in Florida as per the latest Carnegie-Mellon study);
  • Hybrid (so, exactly how does a hybrid power plant work?);
  • Hydro and Thermal (you need a lot of water and thermal springs – geological features not readily available as demand needs in the locales needed);
  • Bio-mass/Bio-fuel (actually, quite realistic since the diesel engine was invented by running on peanut oil – but requiring an infrastructure overhaul);
  • Inflating Tires (as per your next president);
  • All of the above (Hint: when taking an exam on a complex subject matter, "All of the above" is hardly ever the right answer).


Weighing all of these options is further complicated by the unfortunate effect of three jokes being acted upon seriously by all governments: Kyoto Protocols, global warming, and carbon cap-and-trade mechanisms.

Then we come specifically to Florida. The governor has suggested that offshore drilling is now acceptable presumably not because he is being considered for VP (the match made in heaven: Obama-Crist), but because the Cubans (using Venezuelan/Chinese technology) have already drilled offshore – as in offshore to OUR shores. The governor has also mandated that by 2020, 20% of all energy generated in Florida must come from renewable or otherwise "clean" sources. Of interest to this arguably propagandist maneuver is that the "how" and the "how much" of implementing this directive is being left to "further studies". We do know who is going to pay for this reverie – the Florida tax payer. One gets this terrible sensation that we are all unwitting participants sitting around the bar in the The Iceman Cometh on this deal.

Hence, there are a plethora of complex options, not any one particularly viable, some mutually exclusive, a couple utterly inane. And with no definitive long-term solution having been analyzed and designed by anyone, those with no experience in this exceedingly complex world should not step into this mess at this or at any time in the foreseeable future.

Despite the undoubted turmoil, the perplexity, the uncertainty and the cost associated with the energy/power picture of this country, the City of Marco Island wants to get into the fray by owning their own utility. While the motivation is clear from the big egos furthering their big ideas to commercialize Marco Island, to even consider such a project when there is so much in flux and a preponderance of ambiguity, is utter banality. If the city blundered their way into a seemingly simple sewer system (at least that was how the peddlers of the scam spun it at the onset), then a city-owned power utility will prove to be catastrophic given that it is an exponentially more complex operation in an uncertain time for an industry clearly under the gun.

But yet there are those promulgating the mistaken belief that all things must be considered, that all options are "on the table" (hopefully not one in the morgue), and that we must contemplate every idea given the city's fiscal problems. Really? Putting aside for a moment who placed the city in the fiscal mess to begin with (read: the syndicate), such puerile group-think (read: no creativity) is akin to analysis paralysis. If everything must be considered, then why doesn't the city consider growing opium poppy on Track K (hugely profitable and there are U.S. government grants to farm this wonderful plant – just ask the now highly efficient Afghan farmers). Or why doesn't the city consider putting up a casino on the island's Calusa Indians' burial ground (the other Native tribes are getting rich with this scheme). Namely, it takes a bit of courage and common sense to distinguish between the probable and the feasible.

Now is not the time for the City to even consider getting into the energy business. The power and energy direction for the country and the world is completely up in the air. The presidential candidates – the ones that will have the most influence as to what will happen in the coming years – are proposing completely disparate if not incomprehensible plans.

There are more pressing and clearly definable issues the government of Marco Island (the one of the people, by the people, for the people) should be addressing. We face daunting local problems such as finding creative means by which residents can continue to afford to live here (presuming those running the joint still want regular residents to live here). Creative solutions are not those that involve creative ways to name a tax – any idiot can impose or raise taxes. With budget woes, declining property values, the ballooning cost of living, and a clear preference by the elitists towards commercialization at the expense of families and those on fixed incomes, there are many full time residents that are seriously hurting. The part-time residents are desirous in not being part timers any more. Families have left and will continue to do so. All of these factors perpetuate the erosion of the economic base and are the main causes that have and will continue to adversely affect the island's fiscal well being.

A stellar committee will convene shortly to discuss the city's utility aspirations – actually the aspirations of an elite few. This committee of must do the right thing and check their egos by emphatically recommending that the city not jump into the power/energy business. It's simply just a bad idea at a really bad time.


  • Well stated Mario. The whole idea of the LCEC takeover has been pushed forward by Arceri who is trying to position himself for a plush job when his four years prohibition expires. The ad hoc study group is designed to give the impression that the citizens have seriously studied the matter and have recommended proceeding. This will give the city cover to avoid a referrendum because the citizens have spoken in the study group. The group does include impartial citizens but they are heavily outnumbered by the Beauforts and Isslers that will make sure the final report moves the project forward. The fix is in and the study group is just part of the process.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Monday, August 11, 2008 12:47:00 PM  

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