All posts by Cory Skeates


Lakeland Electric Announces 5.5MW (AC) Solar Farm to be Deployed at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport

Lakeland Electric will hold a press announcement at the Sun n Fun Fly-In on Wednesday, March 30th at 2 p.m.  announcing the construction of a 5.5 megawatt (MW) solar farm to be deployed in alliance with SunEdison at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. Once the dual-phased solar farm is completed, it is expected to generate more than 216 million kilowatt hours of clean solar energy over 25 years.   Details of the project will be shared during the announcement.

The first phase of the solar farm is expected to break ground in June and completed by the end of 2011. The second phase is expected to be completed in 2012. Once the solar farm is constructed, it is expected to be comprised of more than 18,000 solar panels and generate an estimated 9 million kWh of solar electricity annually.

“Lakeland Electric is very excited about this project because environmental stewardship and renewable energy options are keys to our success as a utility. It is vital that every utility consider carefully how to meet customers’ increasing needs for electricity and do it in a way that is fiscally and environmentally prudent. Deploying utility-scale solar with no upfront costs is a win-win for Lakeland. We have already partnered with SunEdison on roof top implemented solar program but this project will be on a much larger scale.” noted Jim Stanfield, General Manager for Lakeland Electric.

The 5.5MW solar farm was made possible through a strategic solar power service agreement between SunEdison and Lakeland Electric. In the agreement SunEdison will finance and deploy the solar farm with no upfront costs from Lakeland Electric. In return, Lakeland Electric will purchase the power produced at long-term predictable rates for 25 years—adding to Lakeland’s energy mix while helping to improve the environment.

City of Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields said, While our partnership with SunEdison is the latest green effort from Lakeland Electric, as a municipal government we have been installing more energy-efficient lights in our buildings, gone to LED traffic signals and converted to more energy efficient heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems in our larger facilities.”  He added, “We have no intention of stopping here. As a utility, we have upcoming plans that include additional large scale roof top solar installations because renewable energy is definitely the way of the future.

Over 25 years, the solar farm will produce enough clean energy to power more than 15,500 Lakeland homes for one year. In that same amount of time, the solar farm will offset more than 299 million pounds of carbon dioxide – equivalent to removing more than 29,000 cars from the road for one year.

Lakeland Electric is the third largest public power utility in the State of Florida.  The utility is also one of the first utilities established in Florida having started operation in 1889.  Today, power is generated at Lakeland Electric’s two main power plants, the 941-megawatt McIntosh Power Plant and the 176-megawatt Larsen Power Plant. The utility also operates a group of energy-efficient generating units capable of providing up to 50-megawatts of additional electricity when other units are out of service or during periods when demand for electricity is highest.  Lakeland Electric also has been on the forefront of introducing renewable energy to its customers with an early solar hot water heater program and now solar is a viable addition to the generation mix.


FSC Theatre Department Presents “Daddy’s Dyin’, Who’s Got the Will?”

The Department of Theatre Arts at Florida Southern College will present “Daddy’s Dyin’, Who’s Got the Will?” by Del Shores at the Buckner Theatre at Florida Southern College.  Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. March 31 – April 2 and April 7 – 9, with Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. on April 3 and April 10.  Free admission is offered on Preview Night, Wednesday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m.  Mary T. Albright of the Theatre Arts Department directs the play.

The 1987 comedy by writer/director/producer/activist Del Shores is set in a small Texas town and probes the axiom “you can pick your friends, but not your relatives.”  The play features four grown and still squabbling siblings who have gathered with varying degrees of filial love and greed to say their goodbyes to Daddy, the victim of a stroke.   However, it is not the story of the impending demise of the father, but of a rebirth of the spirit of the family unit.

For ticket information, please contact the Buckner Theatre box office at 863-680-3089 or  Reserved tickets may be picked up at the Buckner Box Office in advance of the show or on the day or night of the performance.

Buckner Theatre is located at the corner of Johnson Avenue and Lake Hollingsworth Drive in Lakeland.


USFP Professor Featured at 22nd Annual National Youth-At-Risk Conference

“Our schools are in crisis,” says Dr. Richard Marshall of the University of South Florida Polytechnic. He explained why and offered some solutions as a featured speaker at the 22nd Annual National Youth-At-Risk Conference March 6-9 in Savannah, Georgia.

“Schools are in crisis because we have not come to terms with the fact that approximately 20 percent of students lack the necessary skills, abilities, motivation or background to fit into and to benefit from school,” said Marshall, an associate professor in USF Polytechnic’s Division of Education. “Current instructional and disciplinary practices seek to reward or to punish these children into compliance. But these efforts are failing both students and teachers.  And they are failing because they simply don’t work for the children on whom they are used.”

According to Marshall, students with emotional and behavioral difficulties fall into three major categories: predators (bullies or other intimidators), students with mental illness, and students who are unsocialized or under-socialized.  School-based interventions that rely almost exclusively on reward- and- punish approaches are notoriously ineffective for students in these three groups.

“It is estimated that approximately 10 percent–5,000,000–of children in grades K through 12 have a mental illness that is serious enough to cause impairments at home or in school,” said Marshall. “Unfortunately, teachers and school administrators receive little or no training that helps them understand and manage students with mental disorders.”

His presentation aimed to close that knowledge gap.  He began with an explanation of the underlying brain abnormalities these students have and why traditional reward-and-punish discipline systems may not be working. He then offered alternative interventions and how to implement them in classrooms.

The alternatives he recommends are based largely on the work of William Glasser, called Choice Theory, and Ross Greene, called Collaborative Problem Solving.   These and similar approaches share some common assumptions that explain their effectiveness.

“First, they assume that when students misbehave they are doing so because they are unable to self-regulate or they have never learned other ways to behave,” said Marshall. “These students have what we call ‘involuntary deviance.’ They would like to do better, but they can’t or they don’t know how.  Rather than punishing them for their misdeeds, we should teach them what they do not know or cannot do.  Teachers at all levels are encouraged to replace punishment with teaching.

“Second, these methods include the child in the conflict resolution.  Unlike traditional reward-and-punish systems, interventions are developed with the child; they are not done to the child.

“Third, whereas reward-and-punish methods rely on external controls, our approach encourages students to develop self-control so that they can manage with or without adult supervision. “

At USF Polytechnic, Marshall teaches courses in educational psychology, counseling psychology, and reading assessment. He is also an adjunct associate professor of Child Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at the USF College of Medicine. He is a licensed school psychologist with specialty training in pediatric neuropsychology, a clinical therapist, and a developmental specialist.

Marshall, who lives in Lakeland, joined USF Polytechnic in 2003. He earned an Ed.D. from West Virginia University and a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.


Exciting Chamber News for Android Mobile Users!

Well, I’m just a super nerd today!

I’ve just learned that our monthly magazine – the Forum for Business Monthly – can be viewed on mobile devices through our online publishing service! (I am promised that iPhone compatibility will be coming soon.)

To utilize this service on your Android phone, there is one easy step to complete. Visit to download and install the Issuu app. Once installed, visiting any Issuu publication link from your phone will automatically ask you if you’d like to view the publication in your browser or the application.

As an iPhone user, I’ve had to ask some of you for help in testing. I’m told that the app is a little clunky – but it is still in a beta phase.

Along with our searchable mobile directory ( from your mobile device), this Chamber is certainly on the move with 2.0!

Once you’ve been able to install the Issuu app, scan this QR code to be directed to April’s Forum!