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Columbia County Observer

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Florida Groups Urge Utility Regulators to Boost Energy Efficiency

solar pannels at sunrise with copy: Florida's energy companies - do they want energy efficiency?

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Conservation groups say Florida's newly updated energy-saving goals are still too low and should be raised. The Florida Public Service Commission recently voted to maintain the state's current energy conservation goals through 2025 instead of following power companies' requests to lower or even eliminate those goals. 

Florida's largest utility, Florida Power and Light, and others admitted they have little economic incentive to promote energy efficiency, suggesting customers should make their own goals. But Bradley Marshall, an attorney with Earthjustice, said that attitude keeps Florida near the bottom for efforts to save energy compared with other states.

"Right now, we're about 45th in the nation," Marshall said. "But staying at 45th is certainly a lot better than dropping all the way to last by zeroing out those goals."

Florida law calls for the commission to set conservation goals for public utilities every five years.

Utility companies have long been working to chip away at the goals, convincing regulators in 2014 to end a solar-energy rebate program and to cut energy-efficiency targets by more than 80%. Marshall said moves likes that put the state at odds with the global fight against climate change. 

"One of the most effective ways of stopping climate change, first of all, is by lowering the amount that we're using - our power plants are emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere," he said. "And the cheapest way to do that is through lowering our energy use through energy efficiency."

Marshall said he's happy state regulators pushed back against the utilities, and he credits public pressure. (access the public comments here) But he understands the companies have the money and the drive to keep fighting future energy-efficiency goals.

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