SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Utility energy efficiency programs: Florida


State Efficiency Goals (FEECA) and Utility Leadership

Florida’s largest utilities are required to achieve state-established goals for energy efficiency in the so-called FEECA process. These goals are set by the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) at least every five years. Florida’s 2004 goals didn’t result in much energy savings. The utilities affected by these goals operated programs with annual savings of less than 0.2% of total energy sales.

The 2009 energy efficiency goal setting process at the PSC led to new, higher goals—partly due to intervention by SACE and its ally, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Florida major utility energy efficiency goals for 2010 through 2019 are three times (3x) greater than proposed by the utilities. SACE and NRDC presented legal and technical arguments to persuade the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) to increase these energy efficiency goals.

Some FEECA utilities received approval for their programs designed to attain their goals. However, Florida’s two biggest providers of power, Florida Power & Light and Duke Energy Florida (then Progress Energy Florida), got approved by the PSC energy efficiency programs not designed to meet their new goals (their old program plans, set for 2004-2008 goals, were “extended”). The effect of that decision on energy savings by customers of FPL and PEF is uncertain–and the decision was challenged by SACE in the Florida Supreme Court (albeit unsuccessfully).

In 2014, the Florida Public Service Commission once again approved very conservative energy efficiency goals, as recommended by the FPSC Staff. The goals are lower than they have been in a decade, with the goals resulting in the utilities saving between 0.05% – 0.10% a year for the next five years. Further, the Florida Public Service Commission approved eliminating the solar pilot program.

As Florida’s major utilities continue to fail to lead on energy efficiency, another approach would be to establish an independent energy efficiency utility. This could be a state agency, a non-profit service, or a for-profit company that is funded through an efficiency surcharge on electricity sales, to partner with customers to reduce energy waste and realize economical energy savings.

Both utility-led and independent energy efficiency programs have solid track records in other parts of the country. ACEEE is tracking the development of energy efficiency across the nation; Florida’s ranking is #28 among U.S. states–see its Scorecard for more information. Leaders in the country, such as Efficiency Vermont have met more than 13% of that state’s electricity needs through energy efficiency measures since starting in 2000. The choice between the leaders and Florida is largely a matter of political vision and utility leadership.

Florida’s Municipal Utility Leaders

  • Tallahassee Utilities offers programs designed to help save energy and money, promoting via rebates ceiling insulation, ENERGY STAR & natural gas equipment, solar water heaters & PV net metering, and low-interest loans for energy efficiency projects. They achieved annual energy efficiency savings of 0.34% of sales in 2007 and plan savings of 0.59% of annual sales in 2013. They are targeting over the next five years added efficiencies annually in excess of 0.6% of sales.
  • Lakeland Electric was the nation’s first utility to offer solar-heated domestic hot water on a “pay-for-energy” basis. The utility owns and maintains the solar water heaters they install on participating customers’ homes and bills them only for hot water delivered to the faucet. Solar hot water systems can displace 53-72% of the kWh used by conventional electric hot water systems.
  • JEA, Jacksonville’s municipal utility, established energy conservation programs it plans to expand by a Community Energy-Efficiency Alliance, to more deeply penetrate opportunities for energy and money saving energy efficiency at homes and in commerce. One of the utilities subject to FEECA, JEA is expanding its commitments to energy efficiency. In 2007 it reported gaining only 0.1% in energy efficiency; in its 2011 Ten-Year Site Plan (a Florida utility resource planning document), JEA planned annual improvement of about 0.4%; 2012 savings across all of its efficiency programs topped 0.63%. This is better savings than attained in the past—and ahead of the goal set for JEA by the PSC—but still well below the 1%+ annual gains being obtained by leading energy efficiency utilities, including many other large public power agencies across the nation.
  • Orlando Utilities, also required to make a FEECA plan, offers a loan program for ceiling insulation upgrade projects and rebates on a variety of energy efficient improvements and promoting CFLs for its customers. Results so far have been modest: 2009-10 savings were about 0.13% of system retail sales; in 2012 OUC attained 0.15% savings. The PSC basically gave OUC a pass in 2009, with annual goals set less than half that rate (a paltry 0.06% per year thru 2019). Hopefully, continued growth in savings will prevail in its next FEECA proposal. It is notable that OUC’s administration and customer service center, which opened in November 2008, was claimed to be the greenest building in downtown Orlando when it opened—designed with solar and other systems for LEED Gold, to set an example for the community.