Florida Public Service Commission Proposal Would Lock In 30-year-old Outdated Energy Efficiency Practices and Higher Bills for Customers

Move would cement Florida’s place at the bottom of state rankings for helping customers

December 15, 2020
Contact: Amy Rawe, SACE, 865-235-1448, [email protected]; Bradley Marshall, Earthjustice, 845-239-2355, [email protected]

Tallahassee, Florida – The staff at the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) today released a draft rule that changes how the PSC sets energy savings goals for the state’s largest power companies. But it did so in a way that effectively locks in outdated economic screening practices that have led to abysmal energy savings goals and inadequate energy efficiency programs for customers. Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), Earthjustice, League of United Latin American Citizens, and the Environmental Confederacy of Southwest Florida denounced the action as a stunningly short-sighted move and not in the best interest of the utilities, customers, or the state.

The economic screening practices at issue have been in use for almost 30 years in Florida and have predictably landed Florida almost dead last in state rankings for capturing energy savings from utility energy efficiency programs for customers. With the Commission’s historical failure to set meaningful savings goals, Florida now has among the highest energy bills in the country. For too many of our neighbors, this means facing impossible choices between buying food or medicine or having power cut off.

“After nearly 30 years, Florida has a once in a generation opportunity to modernize its energy efficiency rules,” said SACE Energy Efficiency Director, Forest Bradley-Wright. “But the Commission Staff’s draft rule ignores the most obvious and problematic issues – outdated economic screens that limit access to efficiency measures for hardworking Florida families. Unless the Commission changes flawed cost-screening practices that utilities recently used to propose zero goals, Florida will fall farther and farther behind the rest of the nation on energy efficiency, while customers are left paying the price.”

The groups will be engaging in the ongoing rulemaking process at the PSC and providing comments and proposed rule changes to modernize the Commission’s goal-setting rule. Among other actions, the groups plan to address roadblocks to capturing more energy savings for Floridians, especially low-income families. The PSC will hold a workshop to receive comments on its draft rule on January 14, 2021, at 1 PM.

“It is ridiculous for Florida’s utility regulators to propose energy efficiency standards that are three decades old,” said Earthjustice attorney Bradley Marshall. “Why are they racing to be the worst in America? We live in a state that is already feeling the effects of flooding from rising seas and global warming. We should be a leader in energy efficiency goals.”

“Honestly, there’s only one word for the Public Service Commission’s proposed energy efficiency rule – lame,” said Becky Ayech of the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida. “We are demanding that the Public Service Commission do better, and we hope other citizens will join us.”

“The Florida Public Service Commission is supposed to represent the public,” said David Sinclair, chair of the League of United Latin American Citizens of Florida Environment and Climate Issues. “We need strong, modern energy efficiency standards in Florida, not more excuses for utilities to do even less for customers.”

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Since 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has worked to promote responsible energy choices to ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast.  Learn more at www.cleanenergy.org 

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer. Visit us at www.earthjustice.org and follow us on Twitter @Earthjustice

LULAC is the nation’s largest and oldest Hispanic civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities.  Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services, and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting the critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit https://lulac.org/ 

Environmental Confederacy of Southwest Florida members are organizations and individuals who are devoted to the general purposes of conservation of the natural resources of Florida.  Specifically, the purposes are to conserve, maintain, and protect the air, water, soil, wildlife, historic and architecturally significant structures, flora and fauna, and other natural resources of Southwest Florida, the State of Florida and of the United States of America.