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Better late than never? Energy bill supporters rally Rick Scott with last-minute campaign

Gov. Rick Scott's office is getting an earful from people who like Adam Putnam's energy bill, the Legislature's first energy package in years.

As Scott's Saturday deadline nears, supporters have tripled the number of calls to his office from earlier in the week, when they trailed opponents by a huge gap.

The latest count shows calls in support grew from 685 to 2,001 by Friday, while opponents went from about 1,200 to 2,344. The email fight remained unbalanced Friday, with 49 in support vs. 2,344 against.

The last-minute surge in support follows a coordinated effort by Koch-linked Americans for Prosperity-Florida and state tea party groups who want Scott to veto the measure over $100 million in tax incentives for renewable energy investments over five years.

A Friday robo-call urged recipients to phone Scott's office and tell him he should sign the bill and stand against Exxon-Mobil and oil special interests in an attempt to quash the bill.

One of the groups pushing the energy proposal is Associated Industries of Florida. AIF president Tom Feeney would not confirm whether his organization was responsible for the calls.

"The 'how and why' question about why we are so effective is rarely discussed in public.," Feeney told the Times/Herald.

He sent Scott a letter Tuesday, refuting Americans for Prosperity's claim that the tax credit "has any parallels with Solyndra or other failed initiatives of the federal government."

"This tax credit is only for energy delivered and is patterned after the federal production tax credit signed by several Republican administrations," he wrote.

Asked earlier Friday about the tea party opposition, Scott told the Times/Herald, "I think it's great people are involved in reviewing these bills. This is their government, and it’s great that people are holding the government accountable."

Agriculture Commissioner Putnam wants to resurrect the credits as part of a "modest" effort to diversify Florida's energy resources. He inherited the state's energy office from Scott during the 2011 legislative session.

A veto would be a big setback, he said.

"I can't imagine how we put Florida on a path towards a thoughtful, long-term energy policy if we can't even get this modest attempt across the finish line," Putnam said.

Here's the text of the robo-call:

“The good news is the Florida Legislature has passed a bill, HB 7117, that creates jobs and helps consumers fight higher monthly power bills by encouraging more affordable renewable energy production. This bill is awaiting Gov. Rick Scott’s signature. The bad news is this pro-consumer bill is being attacked by groups linked to Exxon-Mobil and other oil and gas special interest groups -- the same people who profit from higher energy prices. We need Gov. Scott to stand with consumers and support cost-effective energy alternatives to the big oil and gas companies.”

Mary Ellen Klas and Brittany Davis contributed.

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