2009 Industry Outlook
Utilities & Energy 2009
'Renewable Future': For all the talk of going green, Florida's energy mix is still heavy on coal and natural gas.
Rendering: Florida Power & Light’s Martin Solar Thermal Project. The utility expects to generate power from the Martin County plant in 2010. [Rendering: Florida Power & Light]
With renewable energy dominating state headlines over the past two years, you’d think Florida was leading the nation down the green, clean energy path.
In executive orders in 2007, Gov. Charlie Crist set ambitious goals to move Florida toward more solar and wind power, calling for investor-owned utilities to get to 20% renewable energy sources by 2020.
|Renewables: A Small Slice
Today’s energy generation by fuel type in Florida compared with the forecast for 2017 under current policies:
Source: Florida Public Service Commission
In 2008, the Legislature followed up with a bill requiring the Public Service Commission to set new standards for renewables in utilities’ energy portfolios. Throughout the year, new companies and old announced renewable-energy projects across the state. Florida’s largest utility, Florida Power & Light, announced three solar energy plants, including the world’s largest photovoltaic solar array, in De Soto County; the first “hybrid” energy center that will couple solar thermal technology with an existing natural gas combined-cycle generation unit, in Martin County; and the Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center, a public-private partnership at Kennedy Space Center.
Those steps, however promising, won’t alter Florida’s traditional energy mix, roughly a third coal and a third natural gas — and only about 2% renewables [“Renewables: A Small Slice,” below]. FPL’s three new solar plants will generate 110 megawatts of power, enough to light up about 15,000 homes, but that represents less than half a percent of FPL’s residential customers in Florida.Look for the Public Service Commission this month to vote on the new standards. A consultant for the agency last month advised it’s possible for Florida to reach the governor’s goals, but it would require stronger market conditions — and luck.