Florida Mayor Calls for State to Foster Renewable Energy Jobs

Guest Blog | April 1, 2010 | Energy Policy

Renewable energy expansion can drive Florida jobs growth–we just need to post our “Open for Business” sign.  Orange County, Florida (home of Orlando), is inviting cleantech investments, in engineering, manufacturing and development of innovators by entrepreneurs and at our centers of higher education.  This is the Sunshine State: Power generation from local biomass, collection of sun energy from solar systems distributed on thousands of rooftops, plus energy efficiency development at large scale, will employ thousands of people and bring short-term & long-term benefits to Florida and its economy.

Last week, Orange County Mayor Richart T. Crotty sent to Florida House Representative Dean Cannon, next year’s speaker designate, a  call for leadership to set a Renewable Portfolio Standard for the state.  The Florida Senate is ready to go, it passed an an acceptable Clean Energy Standard bill last year, which retains support this year.

Mayor Crotty is calling on the Florida House to heed the call NOW — don’t delay Florida economic growth and diversification, and support “jobs, jobs, jobs:”

Twenty-nine other states and the District of Columbia have already established renewable energy mandates. Just yesterday [March 24th 2010],  state legislators in Colorado passed a law raising its RPS from 20% to 30% by 2020. Also yesterday, the Denver Post reported on new initiatives from three Colorado solar cell companies-initiatives that translate into new jobs. Today, the Orlando Sentinel reports that China overtook the United States for the first time last year in investments in clean energy. In fact, we have slipped behind ten other countries in clean energy investment as a share of the national economy. It reports that part of the reason for this is our lack renewable energy mandates.

In Orange County, I commissioned a study on this subject from the University of Central Florida Institute for Economic Competitiveness, Metro Orlando Cleantech: Assets, Capabilities, Presence, & Potential. Among its findings is that cleantech represents the next wave of innovation and job creation. The most popular of its 17 recommendations is adoption of an RPS for Florida. All of the report’s recommendations are included in the legislative priorities adopted by the Orange County Commission. It is all about jobs, jobs, jobs. In an analysis of 13 independent reports and studies, the finding is that renewable energy generates 40% more jobs than fossil fuel per dollar invested.

Florida needs RPS legislation to become competitive in attracting and growing cleantech companies, and in generating the thousands of jobs these companies can provide. With Florida’s unemployment rate hovering at over 12%, I ask for your full support in bringing RPS to a vote in the legislature.

— Mayor Crotty, Orange County, Florida

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