February 18, 2012

Renewable advocates support Florida energy bills

Advocates of conservation and renewable sources such as solar and biomass are supporting what sponsors are calling "modest" energy legislation in the belief that even a small start would cause those efforts to snowball.
A bill (HB 7117) that cleared the House Finance and Tax Committee on Wednesday and a similar measure (SB 2094) that's moving through the Senate wouldn't set specific goals such as the 20 percent level for renewables by 2020 once envisioned by former Gov. Charlie Crist.

Instead, the bills include such provisions as restoring tax exemptions and credits that expired in 2010, consideration of fuel diversity by the Public Service Commission when deciding whether to permit new power plants and a study on the effectiveness of an existing 

Susan Glickman, a lobbyist for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said her organization would prefer a more aggressive approach such as the targets 30 other states have adopted, but she said the legislation nevertheless would "start the conversation."

"When you get some of these projects on the ground it starts to just demonstrate that the projects are doable and the costs are feasible and in fact that energy efficiency and many new renewables cost less than traditional generation like a new nuclear power plant," Glickman said.

Rep. Scott Plakon, a Longwood Republican sponsoring the House bill, said it was drafted in consultation with Gov. Rick Scott and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

It reflects many of the recommendations Putnam made after the Legislature last year shifted responsibility for overseeing Florida's energy policy from the governor's office to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Plakon said his bill protects existing utility customers from paying higher rates to finance renewable energy and conservation projects while still looking out for future generations.

"This bill we believe provides the proper balance of those two things and the analytical framework for the PSC to move forward to giving us a nudge towards renewable energy," Plakon said.

Glickman acknowledged Florida lawmakers have no appetite for setting targets but noted the costs of renewable energy and conservation have dramatically declined since other states began taking that approach.

That should enable them to stand on their own with state help such as the tax credits and exemptions, Glickman said. She said there already are about $1 billion worth of Florida biofuels projects in the pipeline.

The House bill's study of the Florida Energy and Conservation Act would include a comparison with other states. Glickman said it will show Florida is lagging behind other states and force it to take a hard look at ways to promote efficiency.

Another provision focuses on the state's consumer advocate. It would move the Office of Public Counsel from under the Legislature to the governor and Cabinet. That panel also would get the power to remove the public council at any time.

Each chamber's version has one more committee stop before it can go to a floor vote.


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  2. Mrs Glickman do not speak for all renewable energy oprganizations in Florida and devel finitly not renewable energy industry groups. She only speaks for the Souhthern Alliance for Clean Energy who only cares about te conservation and efficiency study. Renewable business organizations do not support the bill, because there are no renewable energy targets, it strips away RPS language from statute and they feel that if it is allowed to pass,.. Florida will never address renewable targets in the future.

    I hope that Mrs Glickman will stop mugging to gain quotes in news articles and misrepresenting herself and the industry.

    1. OK, I can see that it may not be a perfect bill, but isn't something better than nothing?