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Come on, Florida. It’s Time to Help More Citizens With Energy Efficiency

August 27, 2020
By
Bradley Marshall Staff Attorney
Office

It’s ridiculous that Florida utilities rank near the bottom of all states when it comes to providing energy efficiency programs.

When utilities make electricity use more efficient, every single one of us wins. It shrinks power bills, and the more energy waste we can cut, the less power we need from dirty coal and gas power plants. It’s also the cheapest path to cut the greenhouse gasses that are blanketing Earth and making our planet hotter.

We’ve known about these benefits for decades. So it’s disappointing here in Florida to watch archaic energy policy decisions still happening in our low-lying state, which obviously has a lot to lose from global warming and rising seas.

Florida should be leaning hard into energy efficiency, but instead, regulators and utilities continue to drag their feet, and it’s costing every one of us. Chances are you’re paying too much for your energy bill. The utilities will be able to keep it that way unless the state stands up for Florida families. In the middle of a pandemic, it’s heartbreaking to see some families forced to choose between keeping their lights and air conditioning on or paying for health care, medicine, rent, mortgage and food.

In many other states, utility companies help customers save money and cut waste from our electricity grid by providing rebates or discounts on things like energy efficient appliances and improved insulation and weather-proofing.

It’s ridiculous that Florida utilities rank near the bottom of all states when it comes to providing energy efficiency programs. That’s why Earthjustice is representing the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida in calling on Florida’s Public Service Commission – the appointed panel that regulates the state’s utilities – to hold new public hearings to talk about setting meaningful, modern statewide energy efficiency goals. (See our comments.)

Strangely, the Florida Public Service Commission continues to use an energy efficiency formula that’s a relic from the 1990s. Think about how much our energy picture has changed since then, with cheaper solar, better battery storage, and far more efficient appliances.

The utilities are disinterested in energy efficiency because saving energy means they make less money. In 2019, Florida utilities actually proposed that the state set its 10-year energy efficiency goal at zero. As we said then, zero is not a goal; it’s a cop out. Even that was too glaring for the Public Service Commission, which voted to keep the goals at less than 0.15 percent – way lower than most states but better than nothing. (States which are leaders in energy efficiency do about 20 times better).

Along with the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, we believe Florida’s current energy efficiency regulations are dysfunctional, irrational, and in need of serious reform.  We believe utility customers deserve better.

This is when the Florida Public Service Commission ought to be stepping in and pursuing policies to promote the kinds of energy efficiency programs that most other states embraced years ago.

If you can, please take a few minutes to write to the Florida Public Service Commission at clerk@psc.state.fl.us and refer to  Docket No. 20200181. Tell the Florida Public Service Commissioners that it is time to update their decades-old practices for setting energy efficiency goals and that they should find ways to increase energy efficiency, especially for low-income customers.