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Smart Energy, not smart enough

President Barack Obama tours the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia, Fla., Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

President Obama visited the small town of Arcadia, Florida today, population 6, 671, to tout solar energy and efforts of the Economic Recovery Act to bring jobs to Florida, but Republicans on the hill say the President's proposals for energy and in particular solar energy, won't do enough for the 11.2% unemployed people in Florida.

The President visited DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy center, billed as the largest solar photovoltaic center in the country. The company's 90,500 solar panels are able to generate about 42,000 megawatt hours each year, but the project cost $150 million to build and only provides power to 3000 homes, prompting critics to say the administration doesn't have an overall energy strategy.

In remarks after a tour of the plant, the President blasted his opponents on energy reform, saying, "The closer we get to this new energy future, the harder the opposition's going to fight. The more we're going to hear from special interests and lobbyists in Washington whose interests are contrary to the interests of the American people, " Obama said. "There are those who are also going to suggest that moving toward a clean energy future is going to somehow harm the economy or lead to fewer jobs. And they're going to argue that we should do nothing, stand pat, do less or delay action yet again. I just want to point out, we've heard such arguments before. We've engaged in this same type of debate a lot of times through our history. People don't like change, and they get nervous about it."

But, Washington Representative Doc Hastings, the Ranking Member on the House Natural Resources committee said it's not nerves that are causing pause on Capitol Hill. It's the plan itself, and the taxes it will impose on Americans that are the real problem. “Another day, another empty promise from the President to support ‘comprehensive’ energy development," Hastings said in a statement to Fox News. " Instead of producing all-of-the-above American energy, the President’s job-killing cap and trade bill simply produces more taxes on all Americans’ energy. Republicans have a better plan that will create jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil by developing a wide range of American energy sources from solar to natural gas.”

Hastings, along with other Republicans and the Florida branch of the Solar Energy Industries Association has been pushing for offshore drilling in Florida to create a revenue stream that would support solar energy in the Sunshine State, but President Obama has not endorsed that plan, leading many to complain that stimulus money alone cannot change the overall problem. “With a $1.4 trillion deficit and almost 10 percent unemployment, President Obama should be open to new ideas about ways to reduce federal spending and create new jobs," Hastings said. "But unfortunately, the President has slammed the door shut on a wide range of energy ideas - including using new offshore drilling revenue to fund renewable energy projects and create jobs across our country. Instead of continuing to push his job-killing National Energy Tax bill, he should finally join Republicans in supporting all-of-the-above American energy development."

The White House is investing $3.4 billion through the Recovery Act to help fund energy grid modernization in the United States, and says one hundred private companies, utilities, manufacturers, cities and various other partners will receive grants from $400,000 to $200 million to build a nationwide energy grid. The grid is designed to cut costs for consumers and deliver low-cost renewable energy sources to homes and businesses.

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