Florida, time to get on renewable energy map
By Michael Dobson
Florida has a chance to lead, but not today. In 2008, the Florida Legislature directed the Florida Public Service Commission to develop rules for a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard for legislative passage in 2009. An RPS is a policy that requires power generated by investor-owned utilities to include a certain amount of renewable energy resources. The PSC has asked that 20 percent of all electric generation be from renewable energy resources by 2020. Simply establishing an RPS alone will make Florida the renewable energy leader in the Southeast. A vibrant renewable energy industry — and a green jobs revolution — are, without exception, already under way in the other 28 states that have adopted an RPS. More renewable energy production keeps jobs and dollars in-state and strengthens Florida’s economy.
The Florida Senate Communications and Public Utilities Committee has passed up such an opportunity with SB 1154, which replaces the words "renewable energy" with "clean energy" to include nuclear power. While developing a public benefits fund to be collected from possible federal stimulus dollars, the onerous and glaring portion of the bill that allows nuclear to intrude upon renewable energy erodes good intentions.
In juxtaposition, the leadership in Florida’s executive branch gets it. Gov. Charlie Crist has stood with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California to push policies to establish Florida as the Southeast’s leader in renewable energy. Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Bronson was one of the first to sign up for the 25-by-25 campaign. Gov. Crist and Commissioner Bronson provided leadership by bringing hundreds of renewable energy entrepreneurs to Florida through the Annual Climate Change Summit and Annual Farm to Fuel Summit, respectively.
At the recent Retech Convention in Las Vegas, Florida was discussed as a state to watch as having an appealing renewable energy market on the cusp of an RPS. Current action on the RPS is in serious conflict with that promise. The time is now for Florida lawmakers to step up and create a viable renewable energy industry that uses our natural resources to generate energy, produce Florida jobs and diversify our economy. We urge legislative leadership on this issue to put Florida on the renewable energy map.
Michael Dobson is president and CEO of the Florida Renewable Energy Producers Association.