More than $5 billion flees Florida’s economy every year to pay for out-of-state fossil fuels

Florida’s reliance on gas for electricity generation is twice the national average.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Vote Solar today released a report detailing Florida’s troubling reliance on natural gas, which is double the national average. Floridians send $5 billion out of the state’s economy annually to pay for gas imports.

Read the Report »

“Florida’s dependence on natural gas to produce electricity is one of the highest in the country, even though there are now more affordable alternatives like solar energy,” said Katie Chiles Ottenweller, southeast director of Vote Solar. “The state’s lack of energy diversification puts us in a precarious position, especially as fuel prices increase.”

The fuel markets Florida relies on to power its electric grid can be volatile, creating risk for residents when prices go up or supplies are restricted. The federal government has forecast that natural gas prices could double within the next decade, which would cause Floridians to pay $360 more per year on average for electricity.

For every $4 Floridians pay their electric utilities, at least one of those dollars immediately departs the state’s economy to pay for out-of-state gas. If Florida invested in homegrown solar energy instead, those dollars could remain in the state and grow its local economy.

Solar is now the most affordable energy source in Florida, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Expanding the state’s use of solar has the potential to stabilize energy costs and save residents significant amounts of money on their utility bills.

Despite solar power’s proven reliability and affordability, Florida currently gets less than 2% of its electricity from that source. In contrast, 70% of Florida’s power comes from burning gas.

“Florida is the Sunshine State, but instead of capitalizing on our enormous solar energy potential, we’re digging ourselves even deeper into dependence on gas over the next decade,” said Ottenweller. “If we want to create a more resilient economic and energy future for Floridians, we need to start treating solar as more than a fringe energy source.”

With technological advancements in solar battery storage, energy remains available regardless of whether sunlight is present. This is especially important during hurricane season, when clean microgrids and battery storage can help keep the lights on for more Floridians.

Florida’s cost-effective energy efficiency potential is among the highest in the country, and transitioning to sources such as solar would activate that resource. Florida can tap into a more affordable and energy secure future today by combining solar power, battery storage and energy saving programs on the grid to provide a more stable, flexible and fuel-secure alternative to gas.

View the full report here.

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