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Why the solar initiative is losing

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

I love solar power.

You love solar power.

Everyone loves solar power.

It’s the ice cream of energy production – it should come with sprinkles.

There is so much to love. And unlike a toddler with a cone, there’s no messy cleanup, nobody’s blowing the tops off mountains to mine it, there are no issues with storing radioactive canisters in a cave or shooting chemicals into our underground water supply. And for those of you who care about such things, there are no global warming concerns.

Other than the fact that our power demands generally outstrip its capacity and is (even with the tax breaks) kind of expensive, it’s a pretty good thing.

So why are voters not coming out of the woodwork to support the initiative being pushed by the group known as Floridians for Solar Choice? A recent Mason-Dixon poll covered and reviewed in this blog showed it failing miserably and to many people I have spoken to, they are genuinely confused. Only 30 percent said they would vote for it while 45 percent opposed it. How can this be? Who would vote against the ice cream of power?

Here’s my theory.

When your petition begins with not one but two negative words, voters get confused. Here, read it for yourself:

“Limits or Prevents Barriers to Local Solar Electricity Supply”

I think that when respondents taking a poll hear two negative terms, “limits” followed by “prevents” and then they hear something positive, “local solar electricity,” it can easily be misunderstood to sound like it is anti-solar. It’s simple algebra … a negative times a positive is a negative.

Am I wrong?

Can it be that people are fed up with solar power and don’t want to muck up the Constitution? (You know, that hallowed scroll that ensures we can’t put pregnant pigs in confinement.)

If I am, then how come the other proposal, titled, “Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice” scores a solid 66 percent? Read that carefully. It has the best words ever: Rights. Consumers. Choice. Solar Energy. These are all positive and happy terms. It’s a nice consensus in a single phrase.

I believe the problem isn’t with the popularity of solar power, but the poor choice of words written by the folks who have the best- ever name for its group; “Floridians for Solar Choice.”

I wonder why the same folks who came up with such a great-sounding title for their organization, came up with such convoluted negative-sounding language for their ballot measure. They began with vanilla or some really awesome chocolate chip cookie dough and ended up with a Rocky Road.

OK, the metaphor just didn’t work there, but you get the idea.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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