Friday, November 16, 2018
Business

Florida lags in the middle of the pack for energy efficiency

Florida has a somewhat dubious reputation when it comes to certain energy issues, such as solar energy capability. And when it comes to using energy efficiently, the Sunshine State doesnít stack up that well either.

Energy efficiency refers to reducing energy consumption through measures such as switching to appliances that run on less power or insulating buildings and homes better so it takes less energy to reach a desired temperature.

According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Florida, the Sunshine State ranked No. 23 for energy efficiency as of October.

The rankings are based on how states perform in categories such as state government, buildings, combined heat and power, utilities, transportation and appliance standards. Florida fared worst for its appliance standards and utilities. It scored zero out of three possible points for appliances because the state does not have appliance standards beyond the federal requirements.

For utilities, it scored two out of 20 possible points because, among other factors, of its lack of energy efficiency resource standards, how annual recovery clauses are structured and that utilities are not required to release energy use data to customers or third parties.

Floridaís laws can make energy efficiency a somewhat complicated matter for utilities, advocates say, due to a mismatch in incentives. Thatís because public utilities are allowed to collect a return on investment for any capital expenditures they create ó such as a new or revamped power plant. That means they make money by building things, not reducing the need for power.

"Their incentive is to build power plants and put concrete in the ground," said Susan Glickman, Florida director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Action Fund.

Plus Floridaís energy efficiency goals leave something to be desired, Glickman said. The state Legislature requires the Florida Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities, to set energy reduction goals for five investor-owned utilities in the state, which includes Tampa Bayís Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric Co. Part of that involves energy efficiency.

Currently, Duke has a goal of saving 195 gigawatt hours per year for the 2015 to 2024 period. Tampa Electric is slated for 144.3 gigawatt hours, according to the Public Service Commission.

The goals are set in increments of five years, and the topic will be revisited by the state regulator next year.

Utilities insist that energy efficiency is a priority for them. Tampa Electric Co. and Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Bayís dominant utilities, both have several incentive programs for their customers to increase energy efficiency within their coverage areas.

Tampa Electric, the Tampa-based utility, has a number of such programs. Ratepayers can upgrade their ductwork, windows, insulation and heating and cooling among others. Customers who upgrade windows to reduce heat from the sun can get a rebate of $2.20 per square foot; adding exterior wall insulation comes with a rebate of 11 cents per square foot.

The utility has offered programs like this since the 1980s and energy efficiency plays a "key role" in its business, Tampa Electric spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said.

"We want our customers to use energy wisely. We donít want anyone to waste energy," she said. But it canít be the only measure. "Energy efficiency by itself is not enough to compensate for the effectiveness of improving our plants."

Duke Energy Florida, too, offers programs such as its free "Home Energy Check" evaluation. The utility performed just over 37,000 audits in 2017, incentivizing about 26,000 energy efficiency measures, according to spokeswoman Peveeta Persaud.

"Energy efficiency saves money and reduces environmental impact," Persaud said.

Florida utilities have some time to figure out their next steps. The Public Service Commission plans to tackle the issue of energy efficiency in mid-2019.

MORE: Get more business news here

Contact Malena Carollo at [email protected] or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.

Comments
Florida's Brightline rail service partners with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, will become Virgin Trains USA

Florida's Brightline rail service partners with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, will become Virgin Trains USA

Brightline, the South Florida train and development company that wants to expand to Tampa, will change its name to Virgin Trains USA after partnering with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group.
Updated: 9 hours ago
Free turkey with flu shot? The best Thanksgiving meal deals: Publix, Walmart, Winn-Dixie and Target

Free turkey with flu shot? The best Thanksgiving meal deals: Publix, Walmart, Winn-Dixie and Target

Every major grocer has some sort of turkey deal this weekend or in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. So, let's break down where you can find the cheapest bird for your friends and family.
Updated: 10 hours ago
Florida jobless rate drops to 3.4 percent, adds 17,800 jobs

Florida jobless rate drops to 3.4 percent, adds 17,800 jobs

Unemployment continues to fall across the state and the Tampa Bay region holds its own.
Published: 11/16/18
Green Bench Brewing's expansion 'an investment' into St. Petersburg

Green Bench Brewing's expansion 'an investment' into St. Petersburg

Set to open early next year, Green Bench Brewing walks us through the new space and ambitious new projects.
Published: 11/16/18
Longtime Florida Steel CEO Edward Flom of Tampa dies at 88

Longtime Florida Steel CEO Edward Flom of Tampa dies at 88

Under Edward Flom, Florida Steel's 2,300 employees produced reinforcing steel — often just called rebar — for projects from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to Tropicana Field, plus countless homes.
Published: 11/16/18
Florida just banned indoor vaping. Will you be affected?

Florida just banned indoor vaping. Will you be affected?

Last week, Floridians voted to ban indoor vaping. We want to hear how you expect to be affected.
Published: 11/16/18
Inside the newsroom: Tampa Bay Times project team takes a deep dive inside a notorious Florida death penalty case

Inside the newsroom: Tampa Bay Times project team takes a deep dive inside a notorious Florida death penalty case

A project team at the Tampa Bay Times explores the death penalty in Florida through a notorious 1975 murder case.
Published: 11/16/18
Pasco Business Digest for Nov. 23

Pasco Business Digest for Nov. 23

News and notes on local businesses.
Published: 11/16/18
How do you feel about a $35 million bike path across the new Howard Frankland bridge?

How do you feel about a $35 million bike path across the new Howard Frankland bridge?

The overhaul to the Howard Frankland Bridge includes a bike and pedestrian path. Is it worth it?
Published: 11/16/18
Gulport woman sues Dog Bar over bite

Gulport woman sues Dog Bar over bite

A Gulfport woman is suing St. Petersburg's Dog Bar, saying she was attacked by a dog there in May.
Published: 11/16/18