Groups push cleaner energy options at Duke Energy Florida

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St. Petersburg, FL – Outside Duke’s Florida headquarters today, a group of local elected officials joined with the Sunshine State Clean Energy Coalition to deliver a letter calling on Duke Energy to prioritize clean energy options, like solar and energy efficiency, as the company prepares for the Florida Public Service Commission hearings on the future of Florida’s energy portfolio.

The Sunshine State Clean Energy Coalition is an alliance of more than twenty-five business, faith, labor, consumer, public health, and environmental organizations in Florida who advocate for Florida’s largest utility companies to invest in clean, local solar energy.

“Florida has a chance to set the gold standard for solar energy production,” said Julia Hathaway, a Sierra Club organizer based in St. Petersburg. “A commitment by Duke to propose strong clean energy and energy efficiency programs during this year’s Public Service Commission hearings would signal that the state is serious about growing jobs, saving customers money and ensuring that Florida is a leader in clean energy production for years to come.”

The letter calls on Alex Glenn, President of Duke Energy Florida, to invest in job creating clean energy technologies that will grow Florida’s economy while saving customers money. It notes that there are 26 states with stronger energy efficiency programs and Florida even falls behind other Duke Energy states in savings from energy efficiency.  

Largo Mayor Pat Gerard stated that, “Finding and developing sustainable sources of energy is probably the most important thing we can do for the future of our planet and I hope that Duke Energy will us and invest in our future.”

"The State of Florida, along with utility providers like Duke Energy, needs to embrace the accelerated inclusion of sustainable energy sources in their long-term portfolios,” said Sam Henderson, Mayor of Gulfport. “They have an obligation to take a leadership role in mitigating climate change by phasing out the use of coal in favor of non-fossil fuel alternatives."

According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, Florida ranks third in the nation for solar energy generation potential but is currently ranked 17th in the nation for clean energy production. The letter’s signers urge Duke, who has virtually no solar investment in the state, to “help diversify fuel types to meet Florida’s growing dependency on natural gas for electric production, minimize the volatility of fuel costs, encourage investment within the state, improve environmental conditions and make Florida a leader in new and innovative technologies,” as intended in Florida’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act.

“Duke’s energy efficiency program in Florida is roughly half that of the one in its home state of North Carolina,” said Karl Nurse, City Councilman for St. Petersburg’s District 6.”The result is that Floridian’s bills are higher, energy use is higher and our air is dirtier. Duke should step up and provide its Florida customers with the same energy efficiency programs as it does in North Carolina.”

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Full Letter Below:

                                                      April 22, 2014

Alex Glenn President, Duke Energy-Florida 299 First Avenue North St. Petersburg, Florida 33701

Dear Mr. Glenn:

As public officials, we are writing to express our support for clean energy and urge your company to deepen its investment in energy efficiency and solar power in Florida. The areas of the country that move the fastest toward energy efficiency and solar power will generate the largest share of both manufacturing and installation jobs. We recognize the economic, health and environmental benefits that a shift to clean energy can bring our state and our communities. We also know that your leadership here is vital, especially in the upcoming proceedings before the Florida Public Service Commission that will determine Florida’s energy portfolio for years to come.  

During this year’s FPSC proceedings, Duke Energy Florida and the state’s other major utilities will develop goals and implementation plans for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs to save customers money while protecting public health and the environment. But today, Duke’s annual energy savings in Florida fall far below the savings Duke has achieved in other states, and Florida has fallen from the ranks of clean energy leaders. Remarkably, twenty six states have better energy efficiency and conservation programs than Florida, according to a recent study by the country’s leading energy efficiency experts at the American Council on Energy Efficiency Economy. This means energy is being wasted at the expense of Florida’s utility bill payers, public health and environment. To correct course, we urge you to submit energy efficiency goals to the Public Service Commission this year that match or exceed the energy savings that your company is achieving in other states. 

The Sunshine State has some of the best potential for solar power in the country, yet we are currently ranked 16th among states for installed solar capacity. Duke has virtually no solar installed in-state and so we are missing a key opportunity “to help diversify fuel types to meet Florida’s growing dependency on natural gas for electric production, minimize the volatility of fuel costs, encourage investment within the state, improve environmental conditions, and make Florida a leader in new and innovative technologies,” as intended in Florida’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act. 

Many communities that we represent are already feeling the effects of power sector pollution and climate disruption. Putting Florida on a path to homegrown clean energy and decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels is the best way for our state to safeguard public health and the environment while mitigating the worst impacts of climate disruption. 

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. 

Sincerely,

Congresswoman Kathy Castor

Florida Representative Dwight Dudley

Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni

Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch

Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice

Hernando County Commissioner Diane Rowden

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman

Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson

Largo Mayor Pat Gerard

Safety Harbor Mayor Andy Steingold

Belleair Bluffs Vice Mayor Joseph A. Barkley, III

St. Petersburg City Council Member Karl Nurse

St. Petersburg City Council Member Darden Rice

St. Petersburg City Council Member Amy Foster

St. Petersburg City Council Member Charlie Gerdes

St. Petersburg City Council Member Bill Dudley

St. Petersburg City Council Member Steve Kornell

St. Petersburg City Council Member Jim Kennedy

City of Seminole Council Member Patricia Plantamura

Gulfport Council Member Michael Fridovich

Gulfport Council Member Yolanda Roman

Largo Commissioner Michael Smith

Largo Commissioner Jamie Robinson

Safety Harbor Commissioner Andy Zodrow

Largo Commissioner Robert Murray

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