A Solar Report And Its Shades Of Meaning

Jul 6, 2016

New figures from the Public Service Commission suggest Florida’s “Sunshine State” image is intensifying. But not everyone agrees.

The latest figures by the Florida Public Service Commission show renewable energy use is up 36 percent in the Sunshine State, as more utility customers, like this Whole Foods grocery store, install roof-top solar panels.

PSC officials say they’re encouraged by a 36 percent increase in the number of customer-owned renewable energy systems, mostly roof-top solar.  According to the report, the number jumped from more than 8,000 in 2014 to nearly 12,000 last year.

Deputy executive director Mark Futrell knows the numbers represent less than a tenth of a percent of the total customer base. But he says 36 percent is 36 percent.

“Growth of that magnitude, given the relative costs of these systems, is significant and I think something to be noted.”

But Southern Alliance for Clean Energy director Susan Glickman notes the PSC slashed renewable energy goals by 90 percent two years ago, largely at the urging of the utility companies.

“Big monopoly utility companies have done everything in their power to block Floridians from harnessing the power of the sun.  That’s a huge disservice to Florida given our incredible solar resource.”

Florida Power and Light spokeswoman Alys Daly says some programs weren’t cost effective.

Daly says the company is building three major solar power plants this year and combined they will double Florida’s solar power capacity.

“The total of those three together would be the equivalent of putting roof top solar installations on more than 74,000 roofs.”

Daly says that proves the company’s commitment to renewable energy.