Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Steering Committee Meeting

Members of the Central Florida Committee for Fair Elections Steering Committee discuss our strategy for collecting petitions in the month of October.

Monday, September 26, 2005

LTE by Campaign Coordinator in Florida Today


Article published September 22, 2005

Only Nelson got it right on mercury rule

We applaud Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Melbourne, for voting last week to protect the health of women and children from toxic mercury pollution.

By rejecting the Bush administration's harmful mercury pollution rule, he put the health of 35 million Americans, including more than 3 million children who live near mercury-emitting power plants, ahead of corporate polluters.

Unfortunately, Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Orlando, sided with utility industry special interests and voted for the administration's mercury plan.

Floridians and all Americans deserve strong clean air standards for dangerous mercury pollution.

We commend Nelson for standing up for his constituents.

Angelo Villagomez
Florida League of
Conservation Voters

Winter Park

LCV in the News


Article published September 25, 2005

Homeowners step into spotlight to extol virtues of sunlight
A tour of 3 homes and a school on Saturday
joins a nationwide drive to spread the word.

Peggy Musial Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted September 25, 2005

Looks can be deceiving, as New York transplant Andrew Brown discovered when buying his first home last September.

That's not necessarily a bad thing.

He loved the architectural design and open floor plan. The 1,922-square-foot, two-story home was bigger than nearby properties, but it didn't stick out as being unusual.

Digging deeper, he discovered this property was the "Orlando House," built in 2002 by the city as a demonstration home to meet strict energy-efficiency standards and green-building guidelines. Another plus, he thought.

He bought the house mostly because of the downtown location and aesthetics. Yet, a year later, the benefits of choosing this particular home keep adding up.

"Living in this home, I'm absolutely aware of what I'm doing," he says, and not just because he's paying the electric bills -- which average what he paid for an 800-square-foot apartment.

"I really try to conserve water, recycle what I can -- for everybody's sake. This is a home for Florida's future."

On Saturday, he's opening his doors to spread the word about energy conservation and eco-minded living as Orlando for the first time partners with communities in more than 40 states for the 10th annual National Solar Tour. Across the nation, communities, schools and residents are staging events simultaneously to bring home the idea that solar energy is a viable, nonpolluting and cost-saving alternative to fossil fuels.

The Solar Tour Orlando venue, presented by the Central Florida Renewable Energy Society, begins at 9 a.m. at Albert Park on Edgewater Drive in College Park, followed by a self-paced driving tour to three local solar-savvy homes and to Edgewater High School, which uses solar electric panels.

At the fair, visitors can learn about the science and politics of solar technology in general. More specifically, visitors can walk away from the tour knowing the difference and benefits of solar electric power -- or photovoltaics -- and solar thermal power, which is used to heat water, says event organizer Craig Williams. The potential to generate solar power in Florida is tremendous, he says.

"What better way to promote living in the Sunshine State?" Williams asks.

Raising public awareness -- about solar energy, political advocacy and alternative energy sources -- is what the fair and tour are all about, says Williams.

"Sunshine is Florida's most abundant natural resource. It's there for all of us."

Presenters from the energy society will talk about solar electric rooftop systems. Visitors also will learn how to take advantage of the new federal 30 percent solar tax credit of up to $2,000 for using solar thermal and solar electric systems, Williams says.

David Bessette of Allsolar Service Co. Inc. in Orlando will have a miniature solar hot water system and solar electric system on display to show the components and demonstrate how these systems connect to a home. Consultants also will talk about how a solar hot water system can save upwards of 25 percent on each electric bill and pay for itself in less than five years.

Members of the Central Florida Sierra Club will be on hand to emphasize the importance of renewable energy for the environment, the economy and national security.

Also, energy advocates from the League of Conservation Voters will talk about public policy.

"With the right kind of public policy for rebates and incentives, this [solar] technology has been proven to thrive in other states, and it most certainly should be a major part of any energy plan for Florida," Williams says.

Then, at 10 a.m. the road tour begins.

Setting an example

If the sun's out, tour-goers can watch electric meters spin backward at two of the downtown residences -- an energy-efficiency option that puts money back in the homeowner's pockets. Excess solar-generated electricity collected from these systems flows into the Orlando Utility Commission's grid, adding to the utility's reserve.

One homeowner on the tour, Dr. Robert Stonerock, built his Lancaster Park home in 1996 using two solar thermal systems to heat water and one solar photovoltaic system to run ceiling fans and lights on one side of the house.

In 2001, he installed a second solar electric system, taking advantage of the Florida Solar Energy Center Rebate program, which connected this system to the OUC grid and nets him a $50 credit each month on his electric bill.

Stonerock expects people will ask him if the $60,000 solar system is worth the investment. Absolutely, he'll say. He uses 25 percent less grid electricity with solar equipment, he says, although the reason he chose solar power isn't based entirely on economics. In fact, he says, the economic return for using solar electricity today isn't competitive with using fossil fuels, although it is getting better.

Solar hot water savings, on the other hand, are competitive in today's market, he says.

"I could have bought a Lexus for enjoyment, but instead I bought a solar system because it's the right thing to do. I wanted to set an example for others," he says.

Another benefit presented itself during last year's barrage of three hurricanes: Stonerock was able to run most appliances in his home and take hot showers while his neighbors waited out the power outages.

At Brown's home, Joe Sandley, project manager for the Orlando House, will explain how the home was designed to meet strict energy-saving standards, including sustainability, energy efficiency, use of recycled materials, affordability and environmental friendliness.

Brown's home is equipped with a solar water-heating unit. Visitors also can glimpse other energy-efficient aspects of the home, such as the metal roof, termite-resistant bamboo flooring and the Energy Star appliances and windows.

The home, which was constructed on an infill site, also was intentionally built to show that traditional design and environmentally-minded construction materials can blend seamlessly in a residential neighborhood. The home received Energy Star and Florida Green Building Coalition certifications as well as the Gold Ring Rating set by OUC for energy efficiency.

The downtown road tour should take from two to three hours, Williams estimates, depending on how long visitors stay at each home.

Carpooling, which just about goes without saying, is encouraged.

Copyright 2005, Orlando Sentinel Get home delivery - up to 50% off

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

LTE by Campaign Coordinator in Miami Herald


Article published September 21, 2005

Mercury Pollution

We applaud Sen. Bill Nelson for voting this week to protect the health of women and children across the country from toxic-mercury pollution. By rejecting the Bush administration's harmful mercury-pollution rule, he put the health of 35 million people, including more than 3 million children who live near a mercury-emitting power plant, ahead of corporate polluters. Mercury can cause brain damage and pose health risks to pregnant women and children. Additionally, fish and other wildlife in the Everglades are contaminated every year.

Unfortunately, Sen. Mel Martínez sided with utility-industry special interests and voted for the administration's mercury plan, which would allow more toxic pollution to be emitted into the air and, eventually, bodies of water for years to come.

Florida campaign coordinator
League of Conservation Voters
Winter Park

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Found this on FieldWorks Online:

League of Conservation Voters

FieldWorks developed the League of Conservation Voters first-ever national grassroots program-the Environmental Victory Project. From September of 2003, FieldWorks guided LCV through every step of the process of setting up a large field operation in Wisconsin, Oregon, Florida, and New Mexico, that mobilized over 5000 volunteers, knocked on 1.2 million doors, and spoke directly with half a million voters at their homes in the summer and fall of 2004 as part of the America Votes coalition. LCV's was widely regarded as one of the most productive and effective field operations on the 527 side in 2004. It was so successful and impressive, in fact, that the WI staff was tapped by ACT and America Votes to run the statewide Election Day volunteer operation.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

LTE by LCV Campaign Manager in Sarasota Herald Tribune


Article published September 6, 2005

Harris reverses on drilling issue

Re: "Nelson, Harris all over issue of drilling," Aug. 29:

Although Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Longboat Key) says she has "consistently opposed drilling off our shores," a close examination of her voting record in the U.S. House of Representatives shows some clear inconsistencies with respect to this critical issue for Florida.

Both in June 2003 and April 2004, Rep. Harris voted for an energy bill that could have paved the way for drilling off Florida's coast by weakening an important safeguard against new drilling projects, the Coastal Zone Management Act. In the early 1990s, then-Gov. Lawton Chiles invoked the management act twice to stop drilling projects, including one less than 15 miles off the coast of Pensacola, arguing that "the potential environmental and economic hazards of a spill outweighed the benefits."

Only after going through her recent Senate campaign makeover has Rep. Harris changed her tune, first introducing a largely symbolic bill to ban drilling off Florida's coasts and then voting against the final energy bill. Rep. Harris' blatant flip-flop on this issue raises serious questions about her commitment to protecting Florida's beaches and coastal communities from the potentially devastating impact of an oil spill. Does Rep. Harris side with Florida families or with the oil and gas industry?

Shirin Bidel-Niyat
Florida campaign manager
League of Conservation Voters