Lets Make Florida Open for Renewable Business

Stephen Smith | March 12, 2009 | Climate Change, Energy Policy, Nuclear

tallahassee_capitol_complex_pr11224Getting a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) adopted into Florida legislation this session is a top priority for SACE and our campaign partners, the Renewable Energy Alliance (REAL).

On March 10, I spoke before two important legislative committees in the Florida House (Energy and Utilities Policy) and Senate (Communications, Energy and Pubic Utilities). I want to thank State Representative Keegel and State Senator King for providing an opportunity to discuss the PSC’s proposal, initiated by Governor Crist’s executive order that would require utilities produce 20 percent of power from renewable sources by 2020.

Utilizing renewable energy has big implications for economic recovery in the state including the potential to jump-start the market (see coverage). Regulatory policies and financial barriers make it difficult to enter the renewable energy market, and introducing a RPS into legislation will open the doors for much-needed job creation, business innovation, and an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Unfortunately, the utilities want to corrupt a RPS by trying to change the standard to include nuclear power. Florida Power and Light and Progress Energy are leading this effort and trying to call it a “clean energy standard,” which will include nukes. Ratepayers in Florida are already becoming uncomfortable with the higher rates that the new push for nuclear has brought on. We do not support including nukes in the RPS.

If utilities were required to allow renewable energy to become part of the mix, innovative business models would emerge in the marketplace. For instance, a leading company, Florida Crystals, can produce more clean energy if the state rewards innovative business models such as their own — a sugar company that produces electricity from biomass using waste from its crops as fuel.

There is also good work going on with the concept of a “Feed in Tariff” (FIT). This has been used in other countries as a way to grow the renewable energy market. Gainesville recently implemented a feed in tariff and the Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy (FARE) is pushing hard for getting a FIT in law in Florida. FARE had former CIA Director James Woolsey present at the same committees to talk about how renewables provide stability and security to the transmission grid. SACE supports FITs as an important tool in the toolbox for growing renewable energy.

Learn more about Florida’s renewable energy future and be part of this pivotal conversation. Learn about what renewable energy advocates are saying and please join us by voicing your support during an energy roundtable and citizen action lobby day at the State Capitol in Tallahassee March 16 and 17. To get involved, contact Toni Reale at toni@cleanenergy.org or 843.641.0600.

Stephen Smith
Dr. Stephen A. Smith has 30 years of experience effecting change for the environment. Since 1993, Dr. Smith has led the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) as its executive…
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