Plan too costly for Florida
By Jeff Lyash, Special to the Times
Even the Florida Public Service Commission’s staff, after careful review of Navigant Consulting’s independent analysis of renewable energy capability for the state, concluded that it would be difficult to meet an aggressive 20 percent renewable energy target, such as those found in proposals in Congress. Navigant Consulting found that only under the most favorable circumstances would 20 percent be achievable in Florida. That’s why the PSC provided for the rate cap and suggested the expansion of the portfolio standard to include clean energy resources such as energy efficiency and nuclear generation — both reasonable approaches based on facts.
Now, a national requirement with a one-size-fits-all approach is under consideration by our elected officials in Washington. These proposals would require that 20 to 25 percent of the energy we provide to our customers come from renewable energy sources without any consideration of available resources on the state level and arbitrarily excluding some of Florida’s most important renewable energy alternatives, such as municipal solid waste and waste heat.
Under these federal proposals, Progress Energy Florida customers would be forced to pay higher rates to subsidize renewable energy generated in other regions or to fund alternative compliance payments to the federal government for renewable energy requirements that can’t be met here.
For our Florida customers, electricity prices would rise almost 10 percent by 2025 — about $250 per year for the average household — to comply with the federal renewable energy laws being considered. Costs would increase even more with climate change legislation. Yet, these higher electric bills would do little to reduce local carbon emissions or produce jobs in Florida, because our customers’ dollars would be sent out of state for renewable energy or to the federal government.
Many who support a federal renewable energy standard claim it will create jobs, reduce CO2 and improve our energy security. These are all laudable objectives that Progress Energy fully supports. But a one-size-fits-all federal standard is not the most cost-effective or fair way to achieve a clean energy future and stimulate the economy.
Instead, we should focus on establishing a greenhouse-gas emissions cap and giving states and utilities greater flexibility to meet the cap in a manner that reflects regional differences and makes the most sense for citizens and our customers.
This type of approach, rather than a national renewable mandate, would reduce carbon emissions at a lower cost while promoting a more reliable energy supply and more vigorous job creation. That’s something we can all get behind, and it’s the goal Congress should be working toward.
Jeff Lyash is president and CEO of Progress Energy Florida, which provides electric service to more than 1.6 million customers in Florida.