MIAMI — A year ago, Gov. Charlie Crist made headlines by announcing ambitious goals to move Florida toward greater use of renewable energy, such as wind and solar power. But the state's Public Service Commission, which regulates power companies, appears to have other plans.
A draft proposal unveiled this week is so timid, critics say, that it would do little to nothing to stimulate the development of alternative energy. Under the PSC's plan, the state's investor-owned utilities would be required to produce 2 percent of power from renewable energy sources by 2010, increasing to 3.75 percent by 2017, 6 percent by 2025 and 20 percent by 2050.
Compare that to Crist's goal of 20 percent by 2020.
"The (PSC) targets aren't ambitious enough to drive any kind of investment in renewable energy technology in Florida," said George Cavros with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
The targets were "the weakest in the nation. Dead last," he added. "Gov. Crist would be 94 before his proposed 20 percent target is realized."
Crist had proposed the 2020 goal through an executive order. On Friday, Press Secretary Sterling Ivey said Crist still believes that deadline is "achievable. … We'll continue working with the PSC.''
Florida energy companies are resisting a more ambitious renewable portfolio standard, arguing that it would drive up costs for customers because the state does not have good potential for wind or solar power.
Among the new draft provisions: Any new renewable energy projects must not exceed a 1 percent increase in cost to consumers. Renewable energy advocates accused the PSC staff of adopting a double standard, pointing out recent requests by utilities to increase consumer charges by more than 20 percent for construction of new nuclear plants.
"We were just flabbergasted by the 1 percent cost cap," said Sean Stafford, who represents Florida Crystals, the sugar producer that operates the state's largest renewable energy plant.