Category Archives: Solar Power

Breaking News: Florida Sets Climate Goal of 100% Renewable Energy by 2050 by Accepting Youth Petition

FDACS Press Conference

Today is a big day for Florida and for our environment.

As a result of the Petition my friends and I filed in January, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried agreed to begin the rulemaking process and today announced the Rule setting the goal that Florida achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050. This Rule holds the promise of starting to solve the cause of our climate crisis, the use of fossil fuels, and I could not be more excited, nor proud.

I’d like to start by thanking my other three youth Petitioners in this historic effort: Valholly, Isaac, and Levi. I must tell you that whether it’s acting as youth plaintiffs in the lawsuit we filed against Governor Scott several years ago or the Rule we are advancing today, it is not easy putting ourselves in the line of fire so to speak, especially so at such young ages, nor is it easy having to make countless sacrifices to fight for our environment. But I know I speak for each of us when I say that the importance of what we are trying to accomplish, what we are trying to protect not only for ourselves but for every future generation is worth the time and sacrifice. So, thank you Valholly, Isaac, and Levi.

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And speaking of young Floridians, allow me to also thank the hundreds of young people all over the state who signed on to support our Petition earlier this year. To each of you I am sincerely grateful and most certainly proud. The work to implement rules to shift Florida’s energy to sustainable solutions will be long and I suspect often hard, but I know I can count on young Floridians to do the right thing, to fix what the adults before us have done and to make Florida a leader in the world-wide fight against our climate change crisis.

I’d like to, of course, thank Commissioner Fried for her leadership in accepting our Petition as well as her staff members Ms. Shelby Scarpa and Mr. Steven Hall for their hard work. Supporting our Petition for Rulemaking requires fortitude and a passion to set political differences aside but, of course, anything truly worthwhile requires such sacrifices and I am proud of each of you for making the right decision and supporting the concerns of not only my friends and me, but future generations forever more.

I’d also like to thank the folks from Our Children’s Trust including Julia Olson and especially my friend, lawyer, and longtime supporter in my desire to see Florida address the cause of climate pollution, Andrea Rogers, as well as Paul Rink and David Schwartz. Allow me to also thank Mitchell Chester, my Ft. Lauderdale based attorney. I’ve known Mitchell since I began working to fix our climate crisis when I’d just become a teenager and I am very grateful for his support and friendship for now nearly a decade, so thank you Mitch.

So on this gorgeous South Florida Spring Day, I’d like to share why today’s announcement is so important, what should happen next and why the opportunity ahead of us is so exciting.

As I mentioned, and as is worth repeating, the promise that the Rule holds is that today Florida can begin to actually address a core cause of our climate crisis: the use of fossil fuels in Florida’s energy system. That’s why today’s announcement and the steps that will follow are so monumentally important to our future.

The 2006 Florida Renewable Energy Policy (§366.92) that the Florida Legislature passed was created to transition our energy sources in Florida to sustainable sources by 2050 and not only better protect our own State but help the United States and the world beyond solve the cause of our climate crisis. Unfortunately, 12 years have passed since that law was created and in that time our government has done nearly nothing to embrace the 2006 law’s promise of shifting Florida’s energy sources to entirely sustainable ones.

That is until today when inaction transitions into action.

And speaking of politics, some elected leaders would have you believe that they are committed to addressing our climate crisis by strictly touting mitigation and resiliency efforts.

Unfortunately, it is true that we have no choice but to work to mitigate the damage mankind has already done and continues to do to our atmosphere and oceans by employing measures you can find all over South Florida such as seawalls, raising roads, and installing pumps as just a few examples.

But if we are to ever actually solve what’s causing our climate change crisis it will not be through mitigation and resiliency but by having our leaders, both private and public, actually address the foundational cause.

Now I might only be 22 but it seems to me that rather than allowing the problem to get worse by the day, rather than throwing away hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, and in time trillions, to try and mitigate the problem we should be trying to solve what’s causing the problem: the use of fossil fuels all over our planet, including most certainly right here in Florida.

Is that not a worthy goal of our public servants, those elected to help us? I sure think so and, with that in mind, I am calling on our elected officials to embrace the rule making process and help nudge our energy providers to becoming 100% sustainable by 2050.

And speaking of Florida’s energy providers, I call on each of you to also embrace the Rule and to transparently work with the State and public to meet the goal of only utilizing sustainable energy on or before 2050. Together we can transition our energy sources to sustainable ones.

To Eric Silagy, Florida Power and Light’s CEO, and both my local power company and Florida’s largest energy company, I’d like to challenge you and your parent company, NextEra Energy, to openly and publicly embrace this transition and the Rule that is about to be established in a transparent manner. I ask you to set aside the PR and expensive television advertising touting your supposed commitment to sustainable energy and ask that we work together to shift your energy sources to being 100% sustainable by 2050.

FPL has been in business here in Florida since 1925 and after nearly 100 years sources less than 3% of its energy from solar, from the sun. Remarkably, FPL sources nearly the same amount of its energy from coal and oil. Mr. Silagy, FPL can and must do better and I call on you to embrace the rulemaking process to work with us to make this a reality.

I also want to very specifically ask Florida Governor DeSantis to set the political rhetoric aside and to publicly embrace the rule making process and in doing so demand that Florida’s energy suppliers shift entirely to sustainable sources. If you are serious about protecting our environment, about Florida’s future and about lowering energy costs for Floridians then today’s news should be easy for you to support.

Allow me to also address a couple of the reasons why today’s news is so filled with opportunity for our state.

Some, of course, will suggest that one state within one country can’t have an impact in helping solve the climate crisis but I do not agree. Consider that according to the Florida Chamber Foundation, if Florida were a country of its own then our economy would be the 17th largest in the world. And soon will be the 15th largest and by 2030 Florida is projected to be the 10th largest ahead of entire countries such as Russia, Brazil, and Spain to name just three. With 22 million residents, a number expected to grow to at least 26 million by the end of this decade, Florida most certainly has the size and scope to make a real difference in solving our climate crisis and to lead the way for others to surely follow.

 And since we are in sunny South Florida let’s consider that according to the World Economic Forum 79% of the United States’ energy demand could be met by solar power and enhanced battery systems by 2050, while also lowering energy system costs. And that’s just from solar power.

I’ve grown up part-time in a solar powered home and it has long seemed to me that in a place called The Sunshine State, the State of Florida government should embrace and facilitate solar power both as the major source of our energy but as an industry. Can you imagine a day when most of Florida’s energy comes from the sun? Or for that matter a day where our state is the worldwide leader in manufacturing solar equipment, panels, and batteries? Unfortunately, Florida is nowhere near where it could be, but today’s news is a step in the right direction.

And speaking of good news, in 2021 the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy concluded that the State of Florida has the most capacity for solar energy in the entire Southeast. 17 States have already committed to shifting to 100% renewable energy within the next three decades and cities here in Florida such as Orlando and Sarasota have committed to the same goal. This is what citizens of the United States want, this is what citizens of the State of Florida want and, it’s what our environment needs and deserves so today’s news certainly helps us take a step in the right direction and for that I am very, very grateful.

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Thanks again to everyone who has worked so hard to make today’s announcement a reality. I can’t begin to emphasize enough how important it is that we take real action to eliminate our fossil fuel use before its too late, before more of Florida’s 1,350 miles of coastline disappear and before special places like Miami Beach, the Everglades, or the Florida Keys are lost forever.

Thank you to everyone who was involved in writing the petition, signed the petition, and to Commissioner Fried and her staff for implementing the Rule.

Happy Earth Week everyone!

The Savings & Simplicity of Solar

 

Great Letter to the Editor today in the Miami Herald about the savings and simplicity of having a solar power system on one’s home that I wanted to share with everyone. In my home our experience is exactly the same as the Letter’s writer, Simon Rose. Our home has solar power, a battery storage system for night time and is connected to the local utility by net solar metering. Our bill runs between $7.00 and $15.00 per month total and whether the utility is operating or not, say after a Hurricane, we always have power. It’s amazing or, as Mr. Rose says, “charging is on the house”.

MERITS OF SOLAR

For years, I’ve been asked what it is like to be a solar homeowner: Do you have to change your habits? Do you have power at night? Do you have power after a storm? The answers are simple: No. Yes. Yes.

In July 2015, we installed a solar system on the roof of our Miami home. Through net-metering, our FPL bill is a constant $9 and change per month, so our investment should be paid off after about six years. Realtors calculate an average $15,000 premium for the sale of a solar house. We recently installed a battery storage system, so when a storm hits, we’ll be able to power our house on sunshine during a grid outage. All from silent, non-toxic power.

Rooftop solar installation prices have plummeted in the last decade and now, thanks to Solar United Neighbors co-ops, the savings are greater and homeowners receive free, unbiased support throughout the entire process.

For my money, the two best investments a homeowner can make are solar panels and an electric vehicle. When you go solar and buy an electric vehicle, charging is on the house. Really!

– Simon Rose,

Miami

Solar & Sustainability Lip Service?

I think solar panels are beautiful, and I am not just talking about the fact that they can help us shift from fossil fuel energy to a clean sustainable solution. I think they are beautiful to look at too, but some leaders in the City of Coral Gables appear to think otherwise and on Tuesday will consider legislation to essentially prohibit them being placed on the street side of one’s house in the so called “City Beautiful”.

In fact, Coral Gables wants to place their view of what looks acceptable, thus aesthetics, ahead of allowing a property owner to benefit from solar, ahead of placing one’s solar panels in the best possible location to capture the sun if that means they can be seen from the street, and such a limitation is short sighted if you truly want to help lead the way in solving our climate change crisis.

Much of the proposed law begins with a fight that Gables resident Daniel Martinez and his family, who have been battling the City over where he’s allowed to place his panels on his roof. Not only did the City tell Mr. Martinez that his family could not place panels on the part of his roof facing the street but we’ve now learned that the City, while pretending to be supportive of solar and sustainability, has made decisions that led to at least 30 other homeowners to abandon their solar permit plans for seemingly similar subjective reasons.

I am incredibly disappointed in the City of Coral Gables’ Mayor and Commission for the roadblocks you have allowed residents to be subjected to, as well as for allowing the proposed limitation to be in your 2019 Legislative Priorities. You can read about what’s happening in the City of Coral Gables here:  https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article223187560.html.

And, on this Tuesday the City will consider passing legislation that says they “support” Florida’s Solar Rights Act, but goes on to say that they oppose any law that would inhibit the Gables’ “ability to regulate aesthetics as it pertains to the installation of solar panels“. Should Coral Gables pass that law they will have shown their true colors and make clear that they are in favor of solar but only if they subjectively like the way it looks and have a say over where panels should be placed no matter what the sun and physics deem best.

Here is a summary of the city of Coral Gables’ ridiculous Legislative Priorities Memo and their Legislative Priorities Resolution highlighting their true view related to solar power (I have marked the key wording in red):

SOLAR

Support the rights afforded under the Florida Solar Rights Act (Section 163.04, Florida Statutes). 

Oppose legislation that would limit the City’s ability to regulate aesthetics as it pertains to the installation of solar panels.   

  WHEREAS, The City of Coral Gables supports the rights afforded under the Florida Solar Rights Act (Section 163.04, Florida Statutes), but would oppose legislation that would limit the City’s ability to regulate aesthetics as it pertains to the installation of solar panels;

On Tuesday night the City of Coral Gables Commission gets a chance to redeem itself and decide whether it’s truly serious about sustainability and doing its part to solve our climate change crisis or, as resident Katherine Newman wrote in the January 6th, 2019 Miami Herald, just giving “lip service” to being “green”. Here’s what Ms. Newman wrote:

GABLES’ LIP SERVICE

The Dec. 26 article “Rooftop solar panel rules frustrate homeowner,” is exactly what most of us in Coral Gables expect: A long, expensive, frustrating process to get any permit (which is why many residents do work without permits).

Coral Gables gives being “green” a lot of lip service, but it does not put our money where its mouth is. Overdevelopment, with massive high rises reaching to the edge of our main streets, is one example. The traffic already is unbearable. What will it be like when the 60-story behemoth on U.S. 1 is finished? The CO2 emissions from all the cars will continue to increase.

In Gables by the Sea, we have been begging for shade trees for 25 years and have been largely ignored. The EPA says that urban “heat islands” contribute to climate change. On our two main streets, the temperature gets to 119 degrees on hot, sunny days because there is no shade. We pay enormous amounts of property taxes and have been unable to get desperately needed shade trees.

We are not fooled by the green talk. Coral Gables needs to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes to pay the unfunded pension deficit. Enormous commercial buildings that contribute to traffic and take away green space will hurt our environment, but will create tax revenue. A homeowner, trying to do the right thing and install solar energy, is irrelevant to the city.

– Katherine Newman, Coral Gables

Saying you are dedicated to helping solve the biggest challenge that kids in my generation will face during our lifetimes often makes adults feel good, but actually putting your money, or your vote, where your mouth and heart is, is another thing all-together. Tuesday night the City can show all of South Florida, and the world, whether it’s either serious or not.

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