I want to share with you some comments I made to our Policy Advisory
Board at their meeting at the Center on February 26. Philip
Fairey and I put together a presentation on what needs to be done
to secure an energy-efficient and environmentally safe future for
Florida. I thought you would find these comments interesting.
Following the highlights I present here, you can click on the link
at the end of the story for a copy of the slides I used, giving much
more detail and information. While I believe most of you reading
this share our feelings on the role of energy efficiency and renewable
energy in Florida’s future, I think there’s a lot of food-for-thought
here that will help you focus some of your own ideas on where we are
going and what we ought to be doing.
I welcome your comments and thoughts on my message, including specific
ideas on what we at the Florida Solar Energy Center might do to help
with this future.
We use a tremendous amount of energy here in Florida. In fact,
we rank fifth nationally in the amount consumed per capita and third
in total energy use. But because of our heavy reliance on fossil
fuels imported from outside the state, we spend more than $20 billion
annually in fuel payments to other states and nations – money
that would generate as much as $40 billion to $60 billion
annually in economic activity if these dollars stayed in our own economy.
I think that the best way to keep that money in Florida is to implement
a non-fossil-based fuel economy using energy efficiency technologies,
our plentiful sun and biomass. The only way to achieve our
vision of an energy-independent Florida is by expansion of rebates
for renewable energy generation and creation of new incentives for
energy efficiency. The result will be more Florida jobs and
companies born in our state.
When you look at other states and see the incentive programs they
offer and the policies they have enacted, you see that we are woefully
behind most of them, making the markets for energy efficiency and
renewable energy grow in those states instead of Florida. Adding
to this problem is the lack of support for branded programs like ENERGY
STAR new homes, where we are also woefully behind many other states. At
a time when we are building more homes every year than any other state,
only a little more than one percent of them meet the EPA’s ENERGY
STAR program requirements! Homes meeting that level save money
for their owners, reduce energy use and dramatically cut pollution
emissions. The costs of upgrading a home to this level are minimal
and pay back that cost in energy savings. We must educate our
citizens, builders, architects, engineers and others about the benefits
of programs like this one.
Over half of the state’s energy use is for building energy,
giving us the best place to make a difference. Making our homes
more efficient and using renewable energy will make a huge difference
in our overall energy use. Because the least expensive kWh
is the one we don’t have to use or produce, the starting point,
even before energy generation, is energy efficiency. A recent
study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy on Florida’s
energy future found that new homes can cost-effectively achieve almost
40 percent greater efficiency than 2007 code requirements, and existing
homes can be cost-effectively improved by more than 30 percent.
| A new home built with energy-efficient features, such as a white tile roof and large overhangs, is an easy way to reduce your energy bill.
The solution to all this is for the state to implement an Energy
Efficiency Policy. This policy needs to provide incentives for
new homes that are more efficient than code and incentives for existing
homes that are improved by at least 25 percent, with all rebates tied
to performance based on the annual kWh or Btu saved as measured in
accordance with Florida’s Building Energy
Efficiency Act of 1994.
The effects of incentives can be incredible. Consider photovoltaic
costs, for example. In 2005, the 30-year average cost for a
residential PV system on your roof was 32 cents per kWh. In
the 20 states that have Public Benefit Funds, there is a 50 percent
buy-down, bringing their average PV costs to just 16 cents/kWh. Further,
renewable energy can be traded by renewable energy aggregators as “green
tags” on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in one megawatt-hour
(million watt-hours) blocks at a price of about $40 (4 cents per kWh),
which would bring that 30-year average cost to 12 cents/kWh. That’s
the same price we are paying here in Florida today for electricity
out of the wall.
Look through the slides below for more ideas on what the state might
implement to help all of us save energy. For example, 40 other
states have net metering laws, but we don’t. We need to
increase our interconnection standards, and also establish a Public
Benefits Fund to support a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (definitions
of these terms are all in the presentation, along with maps of where
they are used today).
I think the bottom line of all this is clear. We can no longer
afford a business-as-usual attitude for our energy use in Florida. We
can’t afford it economically, we can’t afford it in terms
of available energy resources, and we can’t afford it in terms
of the effects on the environment. And we need to start with
things that we can do now!
Yes, I’m sure most of you reading this already agree with what
I am saying. But now you may have some more specific ideas on
what can make a difference in your future, in your children’s
future, and in the general future of our state and nation. I
really believe that the answer to many of our energy problems
lies in our own hands. We need to start taking more advantage
of energy efficiency and renewable energy now – replace your
light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights, install a solar
water heater on your home, buy only ENERGY STAR appliances and high-efficiency
automobiles, ask your Realtor or builder for an ENERGY STAR
we do these things and put our money where our mouth is,
it will certainly get the attention of our political leaders – the
people who represent us in government. Let’s all show
them the path we need to be on.
For presentation, click here (2.3MB PowerPoint).