There was an odd moment at the Solar Uprising rally at the state capitol on Thursday, which Charlie Crist attended to be seen championing solar energy for our state.
It was provided by a woman named Debbie Dooley, who addressed the crowd a few minutes before Crist took the stage. What she said was this: "I know I'm unique in this crowd because I like Gov. Scott. But he's wrong on the issue of solar."
Dooley, it turns out, co-chairs the Atlanta Tea Party and also an outfit called the Green Tea Coalition, which -- if I may cut and paste a little boilerplate here -- "seeks common ground across the political spectrum to empower consumers to unlock America's full energy potential."
So, the odd moment became a political takeaway: Green energy has crossover appeal that Crist is really going to need as the campaign for the governor's office inevitably tightens before November. And he thinks it may help him as a Democratic governor with a Republican Legislature where he failed as a Republican governor with a Republican Legislature.
Gov. Crist never got far with clean-energy initiatives. But when a high-profile Tea Partier opens for him at a solar energy rally, Democratic candidate Crist is entitled to think that, somewhere, a worm is turning.
"I think we're going to have a different Legislature after November," Crist told reporters after the rally. "I believe we're going to make a change in the Florida House and Florida Senate and have more people who are responsive to the needs of Florida and having a cleaner Florida."
Sponsored by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the rally featured several high energy speakers and three bands, including one that suggested the value of renewables with instruments made of plastic barrels, pipes and old water jugs. You probably need to hear them.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Trashtronauts:
The case for solar energy in Florida? According to SACE, we are the Sunshine State, for heaven's sake, but our installation investment in solar has actually declined since 2009. Georgia brought more solar power on line in 2013 than Florida did in the previous three years. And North Carolina, with half of our population, gets four times as much power as Florida from solar photovoltaic installations.
Click here and scroll way down, past the list of speakers, to read about the encouraging potential and depressing reality of solar energy in Florida.
Here's the radio story.