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Solar panel arrays at Duke Energy Florida's newly dedicated solar generating station in Hamilton County.

On March 26, Duke Energy Florida unveiled its newest and largest solar power plant, in Hamilton County, which will produce nearly 75 megawatts of electricity. By 2020, the utility hopes to have its solar-generating capacity at 700 megawatts. One of the places that might contribute to the goal is a solar plant Duke Energy may build on land in Brooksville it has leased from Florida A&M University, which has a research station there.

We certainly have no problem with a private, investor-owned utility such as Duke Energy generating as much electricity as it can from sunlight, as limited as that source might be at present. Duke Energy has pulled the plug on its nuclear plant in Crystal River and has shelved plans to build a nuclear facility in Levy County, a project it inherited when it acquired Progress Energy. So, Duke Energy can probably use all the non-nuclear power it can produce.

When it comes to carbon-based fuels such as oil or natural gas to power electrical generation, Floridians are of two minds. We want all the electricity our utilities can provide us, even if it uses carbon in the process. We don’t, however, want to get our hands dirty producing that fuel. The latest example of this is the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s efforts to prevent exploratory oil drilling in the Everglades. Last week, the state’s First District Court of Appeal rejected a second attempt by FDEP to block the drilling.

The Everglades might not be the ideal place to drill for oil. On the other hand, a majority of we Floridians and our elected officials, regardless of party affiliation, don’t want oil or gas produced anywhere in the state or its offshore waters. We expect other states to do it for us.