Banks of solar panels aboard the Archimedes tilted towards the noonday sun Friday at a Front Street Park dock, serving as a clean-energy backdrop while a series of speakers denounced Amendment 1 on the upcoming general-election ballot.
The band of Amendment 1 opponents gathered alongside the Archimedes for a dockside press conference. The group included representatives from the Turtle Coast Group of the Sierra Club and two private companies, American Solar Energy Systems of Satellite Beach and Brevard Solar of Titusville.
\”Vote No on 1. Don\’t block the sun,\” said Lorraine Koss, a League of Women Voters of the Space Coast board director. \”The monopoly power companies have put together a grassroots group that they call Consumers for Smart Solar. It is anything but smart. All it does it affirm the rights we already have — but it introduces language that assumes that those that don\’t have solar are subsidizing those that do And nothing could be further from the truth.\”
The 50-foot vessel — billed as the world’s largest solar-powered concrete boat — is touring Florida\’s Intracoastal Waterway on a pre-election \”Solar Truth Voyage\” promotional campaign. The voyage is organized by Floridians for Solar Choice, which warns that Amendment 1\’s language paves the way for barriers that would penalize solar customers.
Capt. Carter Quillen later motored the \”Arc\” to Captain Hiram\’s Resort in Sebastian, and he has a weekend appearance scheduled in Vero Beach before reaching West Palm Beach on Monday. He plans to continue southward to Miami and, possibly, up the Gulf Coast to Tampa by the Nov. 8 election.
The boat\’s home port is Banana River Marina on Merritt Island. Quillen and first mate Diane Eggers have toured the Sunshine State coastline the past three years with furry \”second mate\” Radar, a 7-year-old Portuguese Podengo who was rescued by Friends for Animals Sanctuary of Melbourne.
The Archimedes was constructed in Apollo Beach and took to the seas in 1981. Quillen, an engineer, bought the boat years later and installed a solar-diesel hybrid propulsion system. He said the boat has traveled about 2,300 miles under solar power, and cruising speed under solar power or diesel backup is about 5 mph.
\”Unfortunately, $21 million buys a lot of misinformation. That\’s what the utility industry has spent trying to dupe Floridians into passing this awful amendment to our constitution,\” Quillen said.
J. Brewer,vice president of sales with American Solar Energy Systems, which sells, installs and services home solar energy systems, encouraged voters to cast no votes on Amendment 1.
\”We feel that the language leaves open the opportunity for onerous and punitive situations to occur for solar owners down the road. It simply opens the door, creates a pathway,\” Brewer said.
Radar\’s barks from the boat deck interrupted Quillen\’s press-conference comments — \”he\’s crashing the show,\” Quillen remarked.
Source: Florida Today