Florida to repeal renewable energy goals

TALLAHASSEE – Under a controversial law signed last week by Gov. Ron DeSantis, officials have begun taking steps to repeal the state’s renewable energy goals.

The goals, set in 2022, call for utilities to gradually increase the amount of renewable energy they produce or purchase until reaching 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

But a proposal released Wednesday by the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Office of Energy would repeal a rule that includes the goals, saying it is “no longer necessary.”

The law signed last week by DeSantis revamps state energy policies, including eliminating part of a law that directed the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to establish “goals and strategies to increase the use of renewable energy in this state.”

More broadly, the law, which will come into force on July 1, will remove legal references to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, ban potential offshore wind power generation and call for encouraging “cost-effective energy supply and affordable.

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Last week, DeSantis signed a bill that makes climate change a lower priority under state law. It takes effect July 1 and would also boost the expansion of natural gas, reduce regulation on gas pipelines in the state and increase protection against bans on gas appliances such as stoves.

Critics of the measures said Florida should not reduce emphasis on addressing climate change. For example, the Cleo Institute, which works on climate change issues, said on its website that “Florida’s legislative change underscores a growing divide between state and federal policies.” public concern on climate change, emphasizing immediate energy costs over long-term environmental sustainability.

Renewable energy goals were approved in 2022 under then-Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. They said utilities should aim to have 40 percent renewable energy by 2030; 63 percent by 2035; 82 percent by 2040; and 100 percent by 2050.

Fried, a Democrat, ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2022 and was replaced by Republican Wilton Simpson.

In recent years, utilities have dramatically expanded the construction of solar energy facilities as technology has improved and costs have decreased. A House staff analysis of the new law said renewable energy generated about 6 percent of the electricity used in the state in 2021; That figure is expected to reach 28 percent by 2032.

As an example of the continued growth of renewable energy, Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric Co. this spring proposed base rate plans that include building more solar facilities. The plans are pending at the Florida Public Utilities Commission.

But power generation in Florida remains dominated by the use of natural gas to fuel power plants, and the new law reflects at least a philosophical shift by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

For example, it will eliminate part of a current law that says: “The Legislature believes that the state’s energy security can be increased by decreasing dependence on foreign oil; that the impacts of global climate change can be reduced by reducing greenhouse gas emissions greenhouse”. ; and that the implementation of alternative energy technologies can be a source of new jobs and employment opportunities for many Floridians.”

That will be replaced, in part, by sentences that read: “The purpose of the state’s energy policy is to ensure an adequate, reliable, and cost-effective supply of energy to the state in a manner that promotes the health and well-being of the population.” public and economic growth. “The Legislature intends that the governance of the state’s energy policy be efficiently directed toward achieving this purpose.”

Among other things, the law will facilitate regulation of the construction of gas pipelines. Pipelines within Florida that are 15 miles or longer currently require certification under a law known as the Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline Siting Act. Under the new law, the requirement will apply to pipelines 100 miles or longer.

Additionally, it asks the Public Service Commission to “evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of using advanced nuclear energy technologies,” including what are known as small modular reactors, to meet electric power needs.