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May 12, 2009
Updated May 24, 2009
The Florida Legislature ended its 2009 Legislative Session on Friday, May 8. Even though the Florida Legislature failed to adopt a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), the Florida solar industry received welcome news when our state lawmakers took advantage of federal stimulus dollars to provide much needed funding for the solar rebate program as well as other energy programs that will benefit the solar industry.
Florida’s budget for the 2009–2010 FY was approved by the Florida Legislature on Friday, May 8, 2009. The budget will be sent to the Governor for final action. The Governor has line item veto authority on budget items. All funding provided for in the budget for renewable energy comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Absolutely no general revenue dollars were allocated.
There are two sources of money. Click here to read more.
The California Clean Car Rule: Gov. Charlie Crist in 2007 signed an executive order that would have brought Florida in line with a clean car rule adopted by California and at least a dozen other states. The rules tighten automobile emissions limits and increase mileage requirements. The Environmental Protection Agency, under the Bush administration, had blocked California’s proposal. But President Obama recently cleared the way for the state policies to be considered.
-Last year, the Legislature successfully opposed Crist’s efforts to join California. State Rep. Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda, inserted a last-minute amendment to the energy bill that prevented Crist or any state agency from adopting the rule without legislative approval.
– The state Environmental Regulatory Commission late last year approved the California clean car standard, handing an important victory to supporters of the rule. The Legislature will consider ratifying the commission’s approval.
Renewable Portfolio Standard: In 2007, Gov. Charlie Crist signed an executive order that asked the commission that regulates the state’s utilities to require 20 percent of electricity to come from renewable resources by 2020. However, the state Legislature, not the governor, sets policy for the Public Service Commission. In 2008, the Legislature asked the commission to examine renewable energy requirements and come up with a proposal that the Legislature will consider this year. The utility industry lobbied hard both in the Legislature and at the commission to weaken and dilute Crist’s targets. In January, despite the industry’s opposition, the commission voted unanimously to support Crist’s 20 percent by 2020 goal. The commission has forwarded its proposal to the Legislature for approval.
– Utility lobbyists will likely push legislators to delay or weaken the renewable requirement.
– Led by Florida Power & Light, the utilities have proposed a "clean energy standard" that would include new nuclear power plants. FP&L and Progress Energy each plan to build two new reactors in the next decade.
– Renewable energy lobbying groups are pushing against a cost cap that limits how much a renewable energy project can cost compared to traditional fossil fuel projects. Utilities insist that the cap will protect consumers from soaring rates, while environmentalists say the cap will hinder renewable investment.
– Renewable energy groups are also pushing for a feed-in tariff that would require utilities to pay more for customer-generated renewable energy than customers pay for power from the grid. A similar German program has made that country a world leader in solar energy, and Gainesville recently adopted a feed-in tariff.
Do you speak energy speak?
Lost in the jargon? A quick primer:
Advanced cost recovery: The Legislature passed a bill in 2006 that allows utilities to charge customers for certain early costs of new nuclear or "clean" coal plants years before those projects start producing electricity. The utilities can charge up-front for land, site clearing, preconstruction, licensing and interest costs. They argue that it lowers the cost to customers in the long run by avoiding compounded interest on construction loans. Progress Energy and Florida Power & Light each started charging customers this year for new nuclear projects. Progress Energy is charging residential customers $11.42 per 1,000 kilowatt hours for its $17-billion nuclear project in Levy County. Outrage over Progress Energy’s recent rate increase has led some Tampa Bay legislators to call for a suspension or reversal of the law. Progress Energy recently agreed to lower the nuclear charge to $7.80 per 1,000 kilowatt hours.
Carbon cap and trade system: Refers to the system of capping greenhouse gas emissions and trading them in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Economists argue that such a system internalizes the cost of greenhouse gases that are believed to cause climate change, building emissions costs into the price of power. Essentially, companies have to pay to pollute. If they pollute too much and fail to secure enough credits, they can be fined. The state has begun developing cap-and-trade rules that are slated to be completed this year and sent to the Legislature for approval in 2010.
Renewable energy credits: Called "RECs," these credits stand for an amount of electricity generated by renewable energy. Often equal to one megawatt hour, these credits can be bought and sold by utilities so a utility with a coal plant can buy RECs from a utility with a solar plant in order to meet renewable energy targets.
Carbon credits: Similar to RECs, these credits stand for a measure of greenhouse gases, often one metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent. A registration system tracks how many tons of greenhouse gases a polluter emits. Each polluter has a cap it cannot exceed. If it does, it can buy credits from a company whose emissions were below the cap. Caps gradually decrease.
Feed-in tariff: Describes a system pioneered in Germany where utilities pay a higher price for power generated from renewable resources like wind and solar than they charge for power from fossil fuels.
Net-metering: Customers with renewable energy systems sell power to their utility for the same price as the power coming from the grid. In some instances, the electric meter will run backward when the customer generates more power than the home uses, and run forward when the home needs power from the grid.
Renewable portfolio standard: Often called an "RPS," this refers to rules that would require utilities to get a certain percentage of their power from renewable resources.
Asjylyn Loder can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 225-3117.
Did you know?
That between now and 2025, Florida will…
… PREVENT the emissions 319-million metric tons of carbon dioxide if the state reaches targets of 20 percent renewable power by 2020.
… PREVENT the emissions of 50.4-million metric tons of carbon dioxide if the state improves the energy efficiency of homes and other residential buildings.
… SEE its greenhouse gas emissions climb to 463-million metric tons if the state does nothing to reduce emissions.
… PREVENT 49.4-million tons of greenhouse gas emissions by building four nuclear reactors currently planned.
Source: Governor’s Action Team on Energy and Climate Change
In some states where solar is such a sough-after source of energy, such as in Florida, the government offers hefty tax incentives to businesses investing in solar equipment. Solar systems can also become profit centers if a facility generates surplus energy to the city’s power grid.
With utility costs on the rise, renewable, cleaner
sources of energy is a smart business move, and helps business owners
be good stewards of Mother Nature. “The price of energy is not going to
get any cheaper,” Phillips says. “In 10 years, your system will be paid
for and you’ll look like you’re an Einstein because you installed it on
Self-storage developers can also earn three credits for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) by the U.S. Green Building Council, and can capitalize on its sustainability status. “Not only will your business have a role in combating global warming, you will project an image of environmental responsibility to potential customers,” Hayworth says.
“Generally speaking, if people have a choice between two facilities, they’re going to go to the one that’s the green facility,” he adds. “It will also be easier to get through the building and planning department, because how are they going to say ‘no’ to solar?”
Useful Websites for Solar & Renewable Energy information:
|Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy
The Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy (FARE) is the state’s largest renewable energy trade association, with hundreds of businesses and thousands of supporters across Florida and the United States sharing the common cause of advocating for legislative policy that would create a long term, distributed marketplace for renewable energy in Florida. Primarily FARE advocates for small and mid-scale renewable energy projects that are built by independent project developers. The 2012 Legislative Session was FARE’s 5th year, marking a half decade of bringing the critical issue of local job creation and local economic growth through renewable energy to the front and center stage of legislative priorities for Florida. FARE represents roofers, electricians, installers, manufacturers, cities, counties, local elected officials, and individuals all across the state. Help create a level playing field in Florida’s solar industry and join FARE today!
|Alliance for Renewable Energy
With a focus on North America, the ARE is an alliance of policymakers, renewable energy experts, citizens, research institutions, and large and small businesses that came together in the Spring of 2008 to rapidly increase the shift from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.
|American Solar Energy Society (ASES)
ASES strives to accelerate the development and use of solar and other renewable energy resources through advocacy, education, research and collaboration among professionals, policy-makers and the public.
|Florida Swimming Pool Association (FSPA)
Learn about planning, construction and maintenance of your pool. Find a Pool Pro in your area to assist with questions or service needs you might have.
|National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
The NREL Photovoltaic (PV) research is focused on decreasing the nation’s reliance on fossil-fuel generated electricity by lowering the cost of delivered electricity and improving the efficiency of PV modules and systems.
|Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)
SEIA is the national trade association of solar energy manufacturers, dealers, distributors, contractors, installers, architects, consultants, and marketers.
| The Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology
REPP’s goal is to accelerate the use of renewable energy by providing credible information, insightful policy analysis, and innovative strategies amid changing energy markets and mounting environmental needs by researching, publishing, and disseminat
|The Florida Solar Energy Industries Association (FlaSEIA)
Founded in 1977, FlaSEIA is a nonprofit professional association of companies involved in the solar energy industry. Please visit FlaSEIA’s website for the latest updates on the Federal Tax Credits on solar energy.
|The Florida Solar Energy Research and Education Foundation (FlaSEREF)
Throughout this site you’ll find the most up-to-date consumer and builder information available on solar technologies.
|The Tax Incentives Assistance Project (TIAP)
Sponsored by a coalition of public interest nonprofit groups, government agencies, and other organizations in the energy efficiency field, is designed to give consumers and businesses information they need to make use of the federal income tax incentives for energy efficient products and technologies passed by Congress as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
|The Florida Renewable Energy Association
Dedicated to expanding the use of clean, renewable energy technologies through public awareness, political advocacy, and individual initiative.
Solar Pool Heating Web Sites
Since 1977, Heliocol has manufactured the highest-quality solar pool heating system in the world. Over 200,000 Heliocol customers worldwide enjoy a longer swimming season with free heat from the sun. Heliocol systems heat swimming pools of all types.
Domestic Hot Water Web Sites
Over the past two decades, thousands of home owners and businesses have enjoyed the benefits of the PROGRESSIVTUBE solar water heater. It has earned a reputation of high performance with durable design while assuring trouble free maintenance with max
|Solene Solar Hot Water Systems
Solar water heaters have been performing faithfully for over 20 years – and with the newest technology in design and manufacturing, your Solene water heater will be trouble-free for years to come.
Photovoltaics Web Sites
SMA Technologies AG was founded in 1981 as a spin-off of the University in Kassel. The founders pursued their vision of developing and producing intelligent computer-based control systems for decentralized energy supply.
Sharp Solar produces both single and multicrystalline solar cells, built with the most efficient cells on the market.
|Open Energy Corporation
Open Energy Corporation is a renewable energy (RE) company focused on the development and commercialization of a portfolio of technologies capable of delivering low-risk, cost-competitive electricity, fresh water, and related commodities on a global
|Solar World – First class quality manufactured products
As a leading global specialist in solar power technology and components, Solar World offers their complete series of products which are manufactured to the highest quality control standards.
|Solar is Future
A great animated presentation about how your solar power plant works.