U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and Mary Landrieu have introduced a resolution and bill pressing the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to recall Chinese-made drywall and temporarily ban imports of the building material, as worries about the possible effects of the tainted product continue to grow. The bill would ask the Consumer Product Safety Commission to impose the ban until it can create federal drywall safety standards. It is clear that independent, third-party testing and certification has extensive value in the marketplace, especially for products such as drywall, solar water heating systems and solar electrical (photovoltaic) systems. Independent, third-party certification provides not only protection for consumers, but also much needed consumer confidence. Even more important, third-party certification provides protection to reputable manufacturers, ensuring that lower quality products, often from foreign markets, do not compete head-to-head with Florida and U.S. products unless they meet the same standards. The state of Florida had the foresight to protect Florida in 1976 through Florida’s Solar Energy Standards Act of 1976 (§377.705 F.S.) which requires the Florida Solar Energy Center to certify that “all solar energy systems manufactured or sold in the state…meet the standards established by the center and…display accepted results of approved performance tests in a manner prescribed by the center.”
Governor Crist’s climate change agenda, many states passing “real renewable energy portfolio standards,” and skyrocketing electric prices have led to strong interest in solar hot water heating. Residential electricity in Florida moved from 8 cents to 10 cents and then to 12 cents a kWh in January 2006. In the last several months, the price of electricity to some consumers in Florida has reached 15 cents a kWh! The average Florida customer who used 1,250 kWh of electricity per month paid $120 in 2005 and $152 per month in 2008. In 2009 they may be paying more than $160. So, by doing nothing, the price has gone up $40 per month (33%) since 2005!
While gasoline prices have recently dropped, electric costs are skyrocketing! Gasoline for all of the 90s was about $1 a gallon, oil $18 a barrel, natural gas was $2 for a thousand cubic feet and residential electricity in Florida was 8 cents a kWh. Gasoline at its peak last year was over $4, oil over $140 a barrel, and natural gas over $11 for a thousand cubic feet and residential electricity in Florida was 12 cents a kWh. In the last several months, the price of electricity to some consumers in Florida has reached 15 cents per kWh. The average Florida customer who used 1,250 kWh of electricity per month paid $120 in 2005 and $152 per month in 2008. In 2009, the average customer will be paying more than $160. So by doing nothing, the price has gone up more than $40 per month (33%) since 2005. Some customers will be paying $188 per month, a $68 per month increase (50%) since 2005!
Alternative energy is called alternative, until it is cheaper, but cheaper than what? – electricity out of the wall at 12 cents yesterday, 15 cents today, 18 cents tomorrow? Are you aware that people in the U.S. pay different amounts for electricity? The average residential retail price of electricity in the U.S. was 10.6 cents per kWh in 2007. Florida was 11.2 cents, most southern states were about 9 cents, WV 7 cents, UT 8 cents, NY and CT about 18 cents, and CA and NJ 15 cents. So, states that burn coal have the cheapest electricity rates. Places like Utah and West Virginia burn their own coal, so even though they get all the pollution and the greenhouse gasses, at least they get to keep all their money, unlike Florida which ships more than $25 billion out of state to purchase fuel. Florida has already been paying more for cleaner burning fossil fuels than the Southern states to our north. We are now paying more for natural gas than we are for coal, and that price increase is more than what is being suggested to add to our electric bills for solar energy.
New Jersey has more solar than Florida because homeowners in NJ have a Renewable Portfolio Standard, and fees (collected into a Public Benefit Fund) are used to incentivize the homeowner for solar on their roof. If such a fund collected $1.50 on your electric bill in Florida, we could have the equivalent of California’s Million Solar Roofs Program. Clearly $1.50 is less than the $40 a month cost of doing nothing. While solar water heating is cost effective today, solar electricity (photovoltaics) without a subsidy is not cost effective today, but the subsidy is still less than the cost of “accelerated cost recovery” for nuclear power. What about the jobs? These jobs will not be in China and India, they will be done by your neighbor. Vote Solar estimates that more than 3,800 megawatts (MW) of solar could be added by 2020 and with it approximately 85,500 new jobs in Florida. What a great way to love your neighbor.
The Florida Solar Energy Center at the University of Central Florida is accepting applications for the 2008 Florida Energy Achievement Award and the Florida Utility Energy Achievement Award. The two awards recognize significant achievements in the efficient utilization of energy, energy conservation, energy education or renewable energy in facilities or programs.
A Florida utility and a Florida company, organization or individual that demonstrate statewide leadership and significant accomplishments in sustainability and energy savings will be honored. Last year’s recipient was Ann C. Wilkie, associate professor at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS). She was recognized for her extensive work in alternative energy – creating bio-energy from animal waste – and her leadership in promoting awareness and understanding of renewable energy and sustainable practices. Previous award winners also include Walt Disney World and Sarasota County Government. There were no applicants last year for the Florida Utility Energy Achievement Award.
Results recognized through the awards could include reducing energy use, water conservation, renewable energy generation, the use of alternative fuel vehicles and renovations or retrofits with energy-saving measures. Other results could include reducing pollution, innovative energy-saving performance contracts or utility energy services contracts, having a major impact on public education regarding energy issues or playing a prominent role in educating or disseminating information related to energy conservation.
Applications for the 2008 awards must be received at the Florida Solar Energy Center by January 16, 2009.
This easy-to-use, state-of-the-art software offers construction-industry professionals substantial time savings while completing required energy modeling calculations for LEED® projects.
The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the University of Central Florida, today released EnergyGauge Summit Premier 3.15. FSEC will be exhibiting the software at the Greenbuild conference in Boston Nov. 19 – 21. This state-of-the-art software provides construction-industry professionals with the opportunity to substantially reduce the time required to complete energy modeling for the commercial construction LEED® rating system. It also offers a time-saving automatic federal tax deduction qualification feature.
The MyFloridaGreenBuilding.info Web site offers energy-efficiency tips for new construction and existing homes, information on local green building programs, green rating systems, rebates and incentives, calculators, and case studies on certified green buildings in Florida.
On Friday, July 13, 2007, Governor Charlie Crist signed three executive orders that will move Florida from “business as usual” to a national leadership position in renewable energy, energy efficiency and carbon emission reduction.
The first executive order (#07-126) [Adobe Acrobat PDF 20kb] requires state government agencies to “walk the walk.” Among other things, it requires that green house gasses (GHG) resulting from state operations be reduced by 10% in the next 4 years and then consistently over time to 40% below current levels by 2025. It establishes the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program and ENERGY STAR buildings standards as the new “standard practice” for state facilities. It also directs the establishment of vehicle emissions “baseline” for the government’s state-owned vehicle fleet and then, for new vehicles, the purchase of “only those vehicles with the greatest fuel efficiency in a given class.”
The second order (#07-127) [Adobe Acrobat PDF 23kb] establishes state-wide GHG emission targets. The Order set targets of reaching 2000 levels by 2017 and 1990 levels by 2025. The ultimate goal is to reduce 1990 levels by 80% by 2050. Among other things, this Order directs adoption of maximum allowable GHG emissions by utilities and adoption of the California motor vehicle emission standards. It also directs the Department of Community Affairs to increase the energy performance of new buildings by 15% through the Florida Building Code. Additionally, this order requests the Florida Public Service Commission to initiate rulemaking by September 1, 2007, to require Florida utilities to “produce at least 20% of their electricity from renewable sources (Renewable Portfolio Standard) with a strong focus on solar and wind energy.” The order also requests adoption of IEEE Standard 1547 for Interconnecting Distributed Resources with Electric Power Systems as the statewide standard for utility interconnection and the adoption of net metering on a state-wide basis.
Order number three (#07-128) [Adobe Acrobat PDF 17kb] creates the “Florida Governor’s Action Team on Energy and Climate Change to develop a comprehensive Energy and Climate Change Action Plan that will fully achieve or surpass Executive Order targets for statewide greenhouse gas reductions specified in Executive Order 07-127.” The Governor will appoint the members of this Action Team and it will be staffed and supported by agencies under his direction, specifically the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Community Affairs and the Department of Transportation. The resulting Action Plan is to be completed in two phases, with Phase I completed by November 1, 2007 and Phase II completed by October 1, 2008.
In addition, the Governor also signed international agreements with the United Kingdom [Adobe Acrobat PDF 155kb] and the Federal Republic of Germany [Adobe Acrobat PDF 125kb]. Florida joins each nation in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and calls for immediate worldwide action. Florida hopes to strengthen ties with each country while improving upon the science and technologies used for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving public policies and overall increasing climate-friendly commerce between Florida, the United Kingdom and Germany.
In response to an executive order issued by Governor Jeb Bush in November, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has released a comprehensive energy plan exploring options for future electric generating capacity, transportation fuel supply and conservation and efficiency initiatives. During the development of this plan, FSEC provided significant input to DEP, including a presentation to a Tallahassee energy forum in November by center director James Fenton.
Florida GovenorJeb Bush
The plan includes a number of recommendations for conservation and efficiency measures relying on incentives and the government’s purchasing power rather than mandates and new taxes. It recommends that legislation be introduced this year to increase capacity and diversify the state’s electric generation and fuel supply.
DEP Secretary Colleen Castille noted in the plan’s executive summary that “An adequate, reliable, diverse, efficient and affordable energy
supply, coupled with a long-term commitment to energy conservation, is vital for maintaining Florida’s growing economy and quality of life.”
The recommendations in the plan include:
Electric Power Generation
Amend the Power Plant Siting Act and the Transmission Line Siting Act to reduce regulatory barriers, streamline permitting and reduce
processing time, while maintaining opportunities for public input and protecting the environment.
Amend Chapter 403.519, Florida Statutes, to allow the Florida Public Service Commission to consider fuel diversity and fuel reliability
as factors when determining the need for new electric generation.
Expedite state performance contracting with Energy Service Companies, which could save Florida taxpayers more than $1 million each year.
Require all new State government buildings to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Environmental Design standards.
Minimal increases in upfront costs of two percent or less to support green design will result in life cycle savings of 20 percent of total construction costs — more than ten times the initial investment.
Provide consumer and corporate rebates to encourage investments in solar technologies and ENERGY STAR appliances. The typical household spends $1,500 a year on energy bills. With ENERGY STAR, Florida’s residents could save up to 30 percent or more than $450 per year.
Provide grant funding for renewable energy research and demonstration projects.
Improve petroleum supply and distribution mechanisms into and within Florida. Expedite all State permits required to create redundancy and increase capacity.
Before the 2006 hurricane season, register 10 percent of retail fueling stations in a generator sharing program to facilitate temporary power restoration and fuel availability in storm impacted areas.
Foster state-local partnerships to encourage well-designed transportation and transit systems between established communities and within new community developments.
Provide corporate sales and income tax incentives to encourage the production of clean fuels in Florida and for pollution-free hydrogen fuel cells, vehicles and fueling infrastructure.
Provide grant funding for applied research and demonstration projects associated with the development and implementation of alternative fuel vehicles and other emerging technologies.
The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) is pleased to announce the creation of the “Florida Energy Achievement Awards.” This new annual award will recognize a company, organization or individual that has made a significant achievement in the efficient utilization of energy, energy conservation, energy education or renewable energy in the state of Florida.
The award will be presented each October to recognize statewide leadership in sustainable energy savings. The selected winner will have achieved significant results in energy efficiency, conservation, energy education or the use of renewable energy in their facility or program. Read more