It is no secret that clean energy advocates, from those of us at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy to Conservatives for Energy Freedom founder Debbie Dooley, think that Floridians are being cheated out of their right to produce clean, sustainable solar energy.
As we’ve often said, politicians and utilities in the Sunshine State are keeping Florida from truly living up to its nickname. The state is our nation’s largest source of untapped solar potential, and yet big monopoly utilities like Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light are suppressing the market.
But it’s not just about protecting your rights to a cleaner energy future; it’s also about creating and supporting new clean energy jobs that can bolster Florida’s economy. And Florida’s current policies and leadership aren’t supporting that mission either.
Earlier this month, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) published a new study showing that Florida’s clean energy workforce is just a small fraction of what it could be – despite being the fifth-most coal-dependent state, sending $1.3 billion out of state every year to import coal.
There is hope, though, according to E2 Executive Directer, Bob Keefe. In an piece recently published in the Huffington Post, Keefe outlines the important new blueprint that the Environmental Protection Agency has outlined with their new Clean Power Plan, and how Florida can best make use of it to bolster its economy and boost clean energy job numbers across the state.
When It Comes to Clean Energy, What’s Wrong With Florida?
Here’s a question for you. Which state has created more jobs in the booming solar business: Massachusetts or Florida?
If you picked the Sunshine State, you’d be wrong, remarkably enough.
According to the first-of-its kind clean energy jobs survey for Florida that was just released by my group, only about 11,000 Floridians work in solar and other forms of renewable energy. That’s far fewer than many states, including much-smaller Massachusetts, where 13,000 residents work in solar and other renewable businesses. You can see Environmental Entrepreneurs’ (E2’s) “Clean Jobs Florida” report at cleanjobsflorida.com.
Of course the sun doesn’t shine any brighter in New England than it does in Florida. In fact, the state is No. 3 in the country in solar potential. It could easily generate more than 25 times the amount of energy it uses if only it tapped into the power of the sun. Instead of lagging behind relatively little states like Massachusetts, Florida ought to be neck-in-neck with big Sunbelt states like California, Arizona and Nevada when it comes to deploying solar energy.
It’s not that Florida’s clean energy sector isn’t a substantial employer — one that state leaders should support. According to E2’s new “Clean Jobs Florida” report, more than 130,000 Floridians work at 14,000 clean energy companies. About 75 percent of those jobs are in energy efficiency; only about 9 percent are in solar and renewable energy.