PSC Could Fail First Renewable Energy Test

Guest Blog | September 17, 2008 | Press Releases

Tallahassee, Fla. – The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) unveiled an ad campaign Friday that expresses frustration over a proposed Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) draft rule, warning that it will thwart the development of renewable energy in Florida.

“This ad will remind Floridians that Gov, Charlie Crist and the Florida Legislature had a bold vision to take Florida to the forefront of renewable energy development,” said Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

“The governor and lawmakers instructed the PSC to develop a real renewable energy plan capable of quickly propelling our state to a future of economic development, energy diversity and energy independence.”

“The renewable energy plan the PSC staff came up with does not get even get off the ground. It!s the same old energy ideas dressed up in a new coat of green paint,” said Smith.

20 by 2020!

In 2007, Gov. Crist signed Executive Order 07-127, encouraging the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) to adopt a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). In a separate release, the Governor advocated a renewable energy target of 20 percent by 2020. During the 2008 Regular Session, The Legislature codified the governor’s order by passing HB 7135, sending a strong and unanimous signal to proceed in creating a meaningful RPS.

Unfortunately, the Public Service Commission staff recently unveiled a proposal that, if adopted, would be one of the weakest rules in the nation. It also fails to embrace the vision of the Governor and Legislature.

Diverse Groups Rallying to Oppose

The Public Service Commission draft proposal is so far off base it has stirred growing unity among businesses and environmental groups opposed to the RPS.

“The governor’s proposal to adopt a 20 percent RPS target will create a market demand for Florida-grown renewable energy and incentivize greater investment in Florida renewable energy,” said Gaston Cantens of Florida Crystals, a Florida sugar company that operates North America’s largest biomass-fueled renewable energy plant. The plant would be able to expand renewable energy production only if a more meaningful RPS rule is adopted by the PSC.

Cost Cap Unreasonable

The PSC staff is proposing to limit renewable energy sources to a rate cap of 1 percent. The cap places renewables at a distinct disadvantage to conventional generation and won!t promote meaningful investment in renewable energy technology and related job creation. In comparison, fossil fuels have received more than 25 percent statewide rate increases due to rising fuel costs. SACE considers the 1 percent cost cap unreasonably restrictive and predicts it will act as a barrier to the development of renewable energy in Florida.

In addition to setting goals that are contrary to the governor!s executive order, the proposed rule:

  • Fails to include any measure to enforce the rule, rendering it essentially meaningless.
  • Virtually ignores the Legislature!s intent to “protect the economic viability of…existing renewable energy facilities,” promote “fuel diversity,” and “encourage investment within the state.”
  • Does not explain how the renewable energy credit (REC) price mechanism would operate under long-term contracts.
  • Restrains development by forcing the seller of power to compete against the entire utility power system using an “avoided cost” standard that is just more of the same failed energy policy.

“What this rule would do is make it very risky for an investor to put money into any long-term renewable energy project in Florida,” said Michael Dobson of the Florida Renewable Energy Producers Association. “It!s safe to assume this is not what the public expects, given the high cost of energy these days.”

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and its allies are asking the PSC to do better. The next PSC meeting on the rule is set for October 2.

Versions of the ad suitable for television and radio will air widely next week in major markets across the state.

The ad may be viewed at SACE’s Web site: Under “What’s Hot,” click on “SACE Runs FL Energy TV Ad” # # # Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization thatpromotes responsible energy choices that create global warmingsolutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughoutthe Southeast.