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Decision on Energy Efficiency Expected Today in Florida

PHOTO: The Florida Public Service Commission is expected to make an announcement Tuesday on the request by state utilities to reduce incentives for energy-efficiency programs. Photo credit: SafeEnergy.org.
PHOTO: The Florida Public Service Commission is expected to make an announcement Tuesday on the request by state utilities to reduce incentives for energy-efficiency programs. Photo credit: SafeEnergy.org.
November 25, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A decision expected Tuesday from Florida's Public Service Commission (PSC) could impact how much the state's consumers pay for energy usage for years to come.

The PSC has been deliberating on requests from utilities, including Duke Energy, to cut benefits offered by money-saving energy efficiency programs and reduce incentives to incorporate renewable energy. Kelly Martin, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, says if big power companies get their wish, consumers will be getting a lump of coal.

"People's bills will go up because they will have to pay for new, big, polluting power plants, and they won't have the advantage of cost-saving measures through energy-efficiency programs," she says.

The PSC is expected to side with utilities Tuesday after its staff recommended they do so, despite the recommendation of environmental groups they maintain or even increase their energy-efficiency programs. The staff recommendation noted energy-efficiency goals were set five years ago and that natural gas prices have dropped by roughly half since then, making a reliance on fossil fuels less costly.

Martin says she hopes the PSC will surprise them with a decision she says is in favor of the Florida consumer.

"We certainly hope the commission will serve the public interest by rejecting the utilities' proposals, and instead set high goals for energy efficiency which saves consumers money," she says.

Some environmental advocates are suspicious of the PSC's potential ruling in favor of utilities, particularly after Duke Energy and Florida Power and Light spent more than $2.5 million to help re-elect Governor Rick Scott and other Republicans.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - FL