A Sector Portrait
Florida's total power consumption: 226,172 million kilowatt hours, ranking the state third nationally, behind Texas and California
Shifting Political Winds
Miami-based MasTec is one of the world’s biggest wind farm builders.
Florida energy interests large and small say what’s most important is that the nation and state move toward long-term energy policies instead of programs that last only a year, such as the palette of alternative-energy grant and incentive programs now coming to a close in both Washington and Tallahassee.
“This is not a one-year-at-a-time business,” says Ben Gilbert, vice president for business development at Miami-based MasTec, a $2.2-billion utility construction company that is one of the largest wind farm builders in the world. “We need to have a clear energy policy for the long term.”
Large companies such as MasTec are hoping to see renewed federal incentives such as cash grants that return 30% of capital costs to companies that complete alternative-energy projects. Smaller alternative fuels companies are working to maintain federal tax credits, such as the cellulosic ethanol producer credit set to expire at the end of 2012.
In Florida, the alternative-energy sectors that win the support of Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leaders will be those that strike the best balance between low costs and job creation, says Tallahassee energy lobbyist Jerry Paul of Capital Energy.
Still unknown is whether the new governor and Legislature will fall in line with investor-owned utilities that have so far managed to fend off decentralized alternative energy projects, such as a push to allow private business owners to erect their own rooftop solar projects. Maryland-based SunEdison, the largest solar provider in the nation, is building rooftop solar on more than 100 major shopping centers nationwide, generating energy for commons areas while earning revenue for leased roof space. The company is part of the impetus behind an expected “rooftop property rights” bill in the Florida Legislature this session.