2008 Industry Outlook
New direction: The state is taking a clean and green approach to energy policy.
There’s little question that Florida is steering energy policy down a cleaner and greener path that could reduce the state’s dependence on fossil fuels and curb greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, among other significant shifts, Gov. Charlie Crist set ambitious goals for reducing emissions; the state made unprecedented investments in alternative-energy research; and the Florida Public Service Commission denied a pair of coal-fired plants proposed by Florida Power & Light for Glades County, a decision that sent another major coal-plant proposal in Taylor County back to the drawing board.
Litigation put EnviroFuels President Bradley Krohn’s plans for the state’s first ethanol plant on hold. He’s hoping to resolve his legal issues this year and move forward on three ethanol plants.
[Photo: Michael Heape]
Even with major successes in efficiency and conservation, demand for power in the state is likely to grow by almost 30% over the next decade. Energy experts say Florida relies too heavily on natural gas, which comprises 39% of capacity. The Florida Energy Commission will release its first major report to lawmakers in time for this year’s session. It’s expected to include a call for a targeted, statewide strategy on Florida’s energy-generation mix, in addition to recommendations on renewable energy, efficiency and conservation, and climate change. For example, the panel will urge greenhouse-gas-reduction goals but not as ambitious as Crist’s.
The Trends? Plans for three new nuclear plants in Florida
? Stepped-up use of solar energy
? Increasing concerns about energy’s water use
? Changes to Florida’s energy policy
Other observers warn that the state shouldn’t become overreliant on renewables, which together make up less than 1% of capacity in Florida today. “People sometimes think of renewables as if they are magic — as if there are suddenly new technologies out there that we didn’t know about, and we can make all this energy that we didn’t know we could make,” says Alireza Haghighat, professor and chairman of the University of Florida’s nuclear engineering department.
“We do need different sources of energy, and we also need to be practical,” Haghighat says. “We need to be both green and responsible.”