Groups Seek Stronger Energy Rule for Florida

Guest Blog | October 6, 2008 | Press Releases

Tallahassee, Fla. (October 6, 2008) – Renewable energy companies and an array of influential clean energy organizations today called for enactment of a Florida renewable energy standard that includes greater incentives for the renewable energy industry to expand here.

A second attempt by the staff of the PSC to revise a proposed renewable energy standard again fell short of what is needed to establish a robust renewables market in Florida, the group said.

Those calling on PSC commissioners to improve on the drecommended rule (to be formally received by commissioners on Oct. 14) include the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Florida Audubon, SunEdison LLC (North America?s leading solar energy service provider), The Climate Group, Florida Crystals (operator of the largest biomass energy plant in the nation), and the Natural Resources
Defense Council, among others.

“Floridians want relief,” Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “The current proposal is too little too late and doesn’t stimulate the economic development we need for the state. A well-crafted energy standard will give Floridians relief from the world energy crisis that is sure to grow only worse given the current world economic crisis.”

Renewable energy technology — especially wind, solar, and biomass — are proven energy producers and could be providing Floridians with energy today, members of the group said. Unless energy standards being considered by the PSC are strengthened, however, it may be decades before Floridians enjoy the benefits other states apreparing for.

“The proposed PSC standards miss by quite a wide shot the governor’s goal of seeing 20 percent of Florida’s energy come from renewable sources by the year 2020,” Smith said.

Before renewable energy companies will invest in Florida they must be assured they can sell energy at a profit, just as traditional utilities do today. The purpose of the new standard, known as a “renewable energy portfolio” standard, is to create such a market for renewable energy. To date, 27 states have enacted standards to establish robust renewable energy markets. In comparison, the standards proposed for Florida are believed to be the weakest in the nation.

Some critics claim that the cost of creating a renewable energy market in Florida will be too costly to consumers. Members of the group rejected that notion, as well as the idea that it is better for Floridians to be at the continued mercy of fossil fuel availability and cost.

“The idea that consumers can’t afford this is simply wrong and wrong- headed,” said Smith. “The truth is that Floridians cannot afford to continue to be caught in today’s world without a strong plan to immediately develop renewable energy.”

Eric Draper of Florida Audubon meanwhile cautioned against the public buying into the idea that nuclear energy is the immediate answer.

“At the earliest, we will not see a single electron of electricity from a new nuclear reactor in Florida for at least 20 years or more,” Draper said. “The current energy crisis resulting from our reliance on fossil fuels demands faster and immediate action. Renewable energy is here and if incentivized the way Florida has already incentivized nuclear, much of our short term and long term supply could come from renewable energy.

“The technology is ready. It can fill the gap and meet our need for greater capacity … right now, today.”

Investors and developers of wind, solar and biomass forms of renewable energy are waiting in the wings and watching closely what happens, said Susan Glickman of The Climate Group.

“When there is certainly in the market, solar wind and biomass companies will be ready to invest” she said. “By setting a strong target for renewable energy the PSC will give them the reason to invest. The PSC needs to incentivize the market, or it will not work.”

People want freedom from wild price fluctuations and increases in oil and coal, members of the group said. And there is only one way to achieve that right now. That?s through renewable energy technology that is available today and can begin producing energy today.

Economically, there is a direct relationship between the state’s creation of these energy standards and the dollars that are invested to establish the companies that build biomass plants, erect windmills and manufacture solar panels for rooftops.

The current set of standards amount to merely the promise that this will happen in some hazy future. But the public wants relief now. # # # Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization thatpromotes responsible energy choices that create global warmingsolutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughoutthe Southeast.