Renewable Energy to Jumpstart Florida's Economy

Renewable energy in Florida is poised to expand the state’s economic base and create jobs while reducing global warming pollution. Recently, the Florida Public Service Commission delivered a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) rule to the Legislature for ratification that adopted Governor Crist’s goal of 20% renewable energy by 2020. It’s an exciting time for those who value environmental protection, economic growth and consumer protection.

The good news is that Florida has immense renewable energy resources that can exceed Governor Crist’s goal of 20% renewable energy by 2020.

Unfortunately, the renewable energy goals in the proposed RPS stand to be completely undermined by utilities that want to include nuclear power as a resource that can meet the 20% goal. Florida is on the verge of positioning itself as a leader in the new renewable energy economy and we must stop the nuclear industry from undermining Florida’s renewable energy plan because:

A strong RPS is good for Florida’s economy.

The jobless rate in Florida hit a 16-year high of 8.1% in December and is now over 10%. The state lost more than 255,000 jobs, or 3.2 percent over the year, worse than the 1.9 percent decline nationwide. Construction accounted for 30 percent of the jobs lost. More than 750,000 Floridians remain unemployed, but renewables are poised to diversify the state’s economic base.

Recent studies have shown job creation achieved by solar generation to be about 15 - 30 for each MW (mega-Watt or 1000 kilo-Watts). This is supported in a recent Navigant Consulting, Inc. report where the lower range represents utility scale and/or no manufacturing in the state and the higher range represents mostly distributed installation or a heavy manufacturing base in the state.

A 2007 University of Florida IFAS economic study considered wood-fueled plants of 20 – 40 MW in size and concluded an average of 9 direct jobs are created per MW with value added benefits of $13 million per year to the local economy.

Jobs Created per MW of Capacity:
Solar Biomass Nuclear
15-30 9 0.4-0.9

Additionally, 85 percent of the money spent on producing biomass power stays within a 75-mile radius of the plant – stimulating the local economies. On the other hand, electricity generated by natural gas is exported out of Florida – meaning nearly 85 percent of the dollars it costs to deliver energy to the electric grid are exported out of state. Conventional and nuclear energy sources can’t compete with renewable energy job creation.

A strong RPS is good for Florida’s ratepayers.

Of the three choices facing Florida – development of natural gas power plants, building new nuclear reactors, and renewable energy – the renewable option ultimately costs the consumer less and poses fewer risks to both the environment and public health.

Statewide 2006 average residential utility rates are 41 percent higher than in 2000, without any significant investments in clean energy. Those price spikes were created by higher fossil fuel costs. Fossil fuels, especially natural gas, will continue to be a high price-volatility fuel source for Florida in the future – comprising over 50% by 2013.

Additionally, early cost recovery for proposed new nuclear reactors helped drive up Progress Energy’s ratepayer bills up to 25% this year. Construction costs estimates for new nuclear reactors have tripled in the last several years and are expected to increase – placing enormous risk on the backs of ratepayers. This year, FL consumers can expect substantial price spikes from Progress Energy, Florida Power and Light, and TECO.

2009 Projected Utility Cost Increases

Progress: 25% FPL: 16% TECO: 12%

A strong RPS is good for Florida’s environment.

Radioactive spent fuel (nuclear waste) is dangerous and remains radioactive for millions of years, and we have yet to find a solution for effective nuclear waste management. More reactors means more radioactive nuclear waste in Florida.

Nuclear reactors threaten our water supply. Nuclear plants need tens of millions of gallons of water per day in order to operate. More reactors will compete with other important needs here in Florida. Hot water is also discharged to rivers and this “thermal pollution” can stress organisms living within the area and impact the surrounding environment. More nuclear reactors will only continue to negatively impact our natural environment.

FCAN believes in the use of clean, renewable solar energy over more costly alternatives. Visit our pages below to get details on other campaigns.

Stop Progress Energy rate increases!

Progress energy plans to build new nuke plants near Crystal River that will cost ratepayers billions of dollars.  Learn why, and how we can stop it.

FCAN helped to increase fuel efficiency standards!

Clean up the Crystal River Power Plant