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Brightline safety, FPL on solar power, silent films comeback

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All Aboard Florida
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How Brightline wants to make the train tracks safer. And what is the future of solar energy in South Florida, and what role will FPL play in that? Plus, the Miami Jewish Film Festival has three silent movie films that were believed to be lost.

On this Tuesday, January 11, edition of Sundial:

Brightline safety

Brightline trains did not run for 19 months during the pandemic – now that they're back taking commuters from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale to Downtown Miami – there's been concern over more pedestrian and driver fatalities.

Five deaths happened in just one month.

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An ongoing Associated Press analysis of federal data that began in 2019 shows Brightline trains strike someone about every 33,000 miles traveled.

“We're going to continue to work, continue to focus on solutions and mitigation measures, as well as education. But we still stand by the fact that bright line, as well as high-speed rail, is one of the most important and safest forms of transportation in the country,” said Ben Porritt, the vice president of Public Affairs for Brightline.

The company has been trying to get people to hear their public education campaign – and has been piloting new trial programs to see if they help make rail crossings safer. But Porritt also added that a conversation about rail safety also has to include a discussion about suicide prevention on a national scale.

If you or someone you know needs help you can find resources here.

Brightline safety
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FPL on solar power

Florida’s legislative session began today, January 11, and one of the bills that will be considered is about net metering.

That’s when utility customers who have solar panels sell back some of the energy they make but don't use – back to the electrical grid.

The Miami Herald and the non-profit reporting outlet Floodlight recently reported that Florida Power and Light drafted the bill, sent it to a lawmaker – and then gave a large campaign contribution in order to process the bill.

“We have no problem with folks who want to make that private [solar power] purchase. This is ultimately about what's fair in terms of who is paying for it, and that's why we support building the larger [solar power] sites because they benefit all of our customers. It's more cost-effective than private rooftop solar, and it allows us to help keep customer bills below the national average, just as they've been for more than a decade,” said Chris McGrath, a spokesperson for FPL.

FPL on solar power
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Silent films comeback

A century ago, if you went to watch a movie, it was a silent film. But it wasn’t completely silent. There was music, and it was live.

Somewhere near the screen sat a musician, or an orchestra, that played in rhythm to the action that played out on the screen.

At the Miami Jewish Film Festival this year, there are three Yiddish silent films, once believed to be lost forever. They have been fully restored and will play as they did almost a century ago.

One of those films is Broken Barriers, the story of a Jewish girl who falls in love with a Gentile boy. Her family and the village forbid their marriage.

Local musician Richard Vergez will be performing the live score with the film.

Silent films comeback
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Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.