On Wednesday, Dec 3rd, I went down to Florida to participate in the last public workshop on Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) before the final draft of the rule comes out on Dec 29th. There were two highlights: first was the presentation from Navigant Consulting, where they reviewed the results of their report which looked at the potential for renewable development in Florida. I’d say the results were positive: not only does Florida have more than enough renewables to reach a 20% by 2020 target, but it can do so with relatively low impact to customer’s pocketbooks. Renewable advocates are hopeful that this will lead to a revision of the current draft rule, which sets an anemic target for utilities to obtain 20% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2041 (?!!).
The second highlight of the workshop was an alternative proposal from Commissioner Nathan Skop to develop a standard offer program for renewable energy development. His proposal would set a target of 20% by 2020 and renewable developers would be able to access long-term contracts at prices that make investing in Florida more attractive. While many details would need to be worked out, we think this could be an exciting direction for Florida to move in; and it is very similar to what our group has been pushing for all along.
In either case, it is critical that the state establish a strong RPS target and the right framework to encourage a diversity of renewable resources. To that end, Vote Solar has joined a diverse group of renewable developers and environmental groups to establish the Renewable Energy Alliance (REAL). REAL has established core principles that we are banding together to fight for in order to drive renewable energy market growth in the state:
(1) Set meaningful targets and a timeline, mirroring the Governor’s proposal of 20 percent by 2020, which are expected to secure renewable energy technology investment and job creation in Florida in a diverse mix of distributed renewable energy, as defined in Florida statute (in HB 7135), by technology, size and ownership.
(2) Promote a cost protection mechanism that encourages rapid development of renewable energy and recognizes the benefit of diversity that renewable energy resources can play in insulating ratepayers from the risk of volatile conventional fuel rate increases.
(3) Promote fair competition between utility self-built renewable projects and third-party renewable projects including but not limited to offering long-term standard offer contracts for renewable resources.
(4) Promote an enforcement mechanism for compliance and ensures non-compliance is more expensive than compliance.
(5) Remove interconnection barriers and give renewable energy resources priority to the transmission grid.