Florida's Energy Future Debated in Tallahassee
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - How much you spend on your power bill for the next 10 years and beyond will depend on the outcome of a meeting by the state's Public Service Commission (PSC) this week.
Per state law, the PSC meets every five years to establish the state's energy conservation plan, and utility companies are pushing to cut conservation programs by more than 90 percent. Currently, power bills in Florida include a monthly charge for utilities to invest in initiatives like customer rebates for new windows or insulation.
Susan Glickman, Florida director with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, says utility companies hope to remove that charge and reduce consumer access to rebates.
"This is a giant step backwards for consumers in Florida," says Glickman. "Ultimately, this will raise people's electric rates, not lower them. It will saddle future generations with power plants we don't need that will continue to pollute the environment."
She says if utilities are successful, consumers will be paying for energy development they don't need. The utilities argue energy efficiency is expensive and the state needs more plants to meet projected demand in coming years.
Glickman is joining members of other conservation groups and city leaders from across the state at the PSC meeting this week. Jenna Garland with the Sierra Club says rolling back energy conservation programs hurts the working families of the state.
"These are just massive rollbacks that are going to eliminate programs working families need to take advantage of opportunities to lower their power bills, upgrade to more efficient appliances, and make their homes and small businesses more efficient," says Garland.
According to Glickman, the incentive for Florida utilities is on building power plants rather than saving energy.
"They're like waiters in a restaurant. They make more money if they sell you dessert and that extra bottle of wine," says Glickman. "They get a guaranteed rate of return on what they spend, so the more money they spend, the more money they make - and they don't want to help Florida consumers use less energy and save money."
The PSC hearing will continue through at least Wednesday.
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