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Why Integrate Renewable Energy into Florida’s Electricity Mix?
From REAL – Renewable Energy Alliance
- Electricity generated at biomass plants cost about the same as
electricity produced by conventional, 24-hour-a-day power plants.1
- But due to archaic regulations, renewable energy providers are
paid a small fraction of the retail rate of electricity. Florida is
called the “Saudi Arabia” of biomass, because our state has 7% of
America’s total biomass resources.2
- Biomas sresources include agricultural waste, energy crops,
methane landfill gas; and municipal solid waste – which reduce the need
for landfill space and preserves valuable land.
- Electricity generated by Solar PV (photovoltaic) costs about
the same as electricity produced by natural gas “peaking” power plants,3 which sit idle much of the time and only produce extra power during summer and winter peak demand periods.
Jobs – Economic Development
- The cost of electricity from conventional power plants has
increased by double digits in recent years due to fuel price spikes.
For instance, Progress Energy announced a customer bill increaseof 31%
in August 20084, and Florida Power and Light was recently
denied a 1.6 billion dollar base rate increase for costs related to its
fossil fuel-based generation.
- By comparison, states which
diversified their economy with renewable energy have seen minimal or no
rate impacts from renewable resources.5
- Rather than
judge renewable energy according to its short-term price, its long-term
benefit should be considered – reduced fuel costs, energy diversity,
energy security, reduced pollution and increased job creation benefits
- The renewable energy industry grew three times as fast as the U.S. economy in 2007.
- Solar PV generation has been shown to create at least 15 jobs for each Megawatt (Each Megawatt powers about 600 homes).7
- A 2007 University of Florida economic study found that a
biomass power plant created 9 directjobs per Megawatt (MW), adding $13
million per year to the local economy.8
- 9 Jobs Created per Solar Biomass MW of Capacity: 15 90.4-0.9
- More than 75% of renewable energy jobs are in the manufacturing
and construction industries –the exact skill-sets for many in the
construction trade who are now unemployed in Florida.10
Renewable Energy is a Stable, Low-Risk Investment
A strong renewable energy market in can translate to business for up to
1,617 firms, and a total of18,704 green jobs in the solar, wind,
geothermal, and biomass industries.11
A state’s energy mix should appear like a well managed stock portfolio,
with diverse assets thathedge risks for the benefit of consumers.
Fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas) account for 73% of Florida’s energy
mix – which means that mostof our energy dollars leave our state.12
the state doesn’t change course, Florida will get almost half (47%) of
its total electric supply from natural gas by 2017.13 Natural gas
prices are volatile and dependent on unstable world events. To move
into the future, Florida must boost its investment in low-risk
renewable resources, which account for approximately only 4% of our
total energy mix today.14
resources, such as solar, have no fuel costs and biomass uses a stable,
homegrown fuel source that keeps dollars spent on fuel in Florida.
- While conventional power capital construction costs are skyrocketing, solar PV capital costs have
steadily dropped from $27 per peak watt in 1982 to about $4 today.15
energy projects can be developed by private developers, leaving utility
customers free from risk for up-front capital costs and maintenance
- When businesses and
residents put solar panels on their roofs and communities build biomass
plants, electricity is used closer to where it is generated. That means
less energy is wasted by transmission loss over long distances across
the energy grid.
The REAL Coalition:
- Renewable energy
expansion in Florida is a reliable strategy for reducing greenhouse gas
emissions and other pollutants from electricity production. Renewable
electricity can also increase energy security and maintain reliable
electric service at reasonable prices for consumers.16
Green Technologies, Covanta Energy, Recycled Energy Development,
Florida Crystals, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Kyocera Solar,
Vote Solar, Florida Wildlife Federation, Audubon of Florida, Natural
Resources Defense Council.
- 1 Lazard, Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis – Version 3.0, February
2009; See also: Navigant Consulting, Inc., Florida Renewable Energy
Potential Assessment, December 30, 2008.
See letter from Commissioner Bronson, Florida Department of Agriculture
of Consumer Service, to Florida Public Service Commission, September 4,
- 3 Lazard, Id.; See also: Navigant Consulting, Inc., Id. (both as at note 1, above)
- 4 Progress Energy Estimates Fuel, Nuclear and Environmental Compliance Costs, August 29, 2008, at: www.progress-energy.com/aboutus/news/article.asp?id=19482 (fuel-related increases later scaled back due to falling natural gas prices).
- 5 Ryan Wiser and Galen Barbose, State of the States: Update on RPS Policies and Progress, November 18, 2009
- (Rate impacts for renewable energy from states with renewable energy targets was less than 1.2% in 2008).
Roger H. Bezdek, PhD, Green Collar Jobs in the US and Colorado:
Economic Drivers for the 21st Century, American Solar Energy Society,
Navigant Consulting, Inc., Economic Impacts of Extending Federal Solar
Tax Credits, Final Report, September 15, 2008. Introduction:
www.seia.org/cs/news_detail?pressrelease.id=153; Report: http://seia.org/galleries/pdf/Navigant%20Consulting%20Report%209.15.08.pdf (This is a conservative figure representing utility scale projects with all manufacturing jobs located out of state.).
Alan W. Hodges and Mohammad Rahmani, Wood to Energy: Economic Impacts
of Generating Electricity, University of Florida/IFAS, September 2007. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fe697
Nuclear Power Projects, Presentation by Jeffrey Lyash, President and
CEO, Progress Energy Florida, before the Florida Senate Committee on
Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities, January 13, 2009.
Blue Green Alliance, Clean Energy Assembly Line Report 2009, November
2009; see also, Renewable Energy Policy Project (REPP), Florida’s Road
to Energy Independence, at www.repp.org.
- 12 Florida Public Service Commission, Review of 2009 Ten-Year Site Plans, Oct. 2009 www.floridapsc.com/publications/pdf/electricgas/tysp2009.pdf
- 13 Id., See also: Department of Energy Natural Gas wellhead price history, at: http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/ng/hist/n9190us3m.htm (Natural gas volatility is exemplified by its jump from $ $5.32 per thousand cubic feet in 2007 to $11.32 in 2008.
- 14 Navigant Consulting, Inc., Id. (as at note 1, above).
- 15 Photovoltaic Industry Statistics, at www.solarbuzz.com/StatsCosts.htm
Statement of Rene Silva, Florida Power & Light, before the Public
Service Commission on a Renewable Portfolio Standard, July 11, 2008:
“We believe that the primary objective of a Florida RPS should be to
reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from the production of electricity
with a focus on solar and wind generation, while increasing energy
security and maintaining reliable electric service and reasonable
electricity prices for the customers.” [Emphasis added]. http://www.psc.state.fl.us/utilities/electricgas/RenewableEnergy/07_11_08_PSC_Rulemaking_FPL_Proposal.pdf