For the first time, Florida has set targets for converting the state’s energy sources from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The goal: 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who’s running for governor as a Democrat, announced the new goals Thursday morning in Miami with a pointed jab at her Republican opponent, Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“It’s embarrassing and it’s dangerous that our state has ignored the risk of climate change for far too long,” she said. “Now, Gov. DeSantis still won’t even say those words, even while acknowledging that our state is susceptible to sea level rise.”
The goals call for Florida’s privately owned utilities to convert to 40 percent renewable energy by 2030, 63 percent by 2035, 8 percent by 2040 and 100 percent by 2050.
Setting goals is one thing. Reaching them is another matter. The rules must be enforced by the state’s Public Service Commission, which has a track record of utility-friendly policies. So far, Florida’s utilities have not shown interest in committing to a renewable energy goal or lowering their emissions, the cause of climate change.
The state’s largest utility, Florida Power & Light, currently gets 5 percent of its energy from renewable sources. It has not committed to anything further than reaching 40 percent by 2029. Currently, Florida gets about 70 percent of its power from burning natural gas, a blend of fossil fuels that warm the planet far more than carbon dioxide does.
At Thursday’s press conference, climate action advocate Delaney Reynolds directly called out FPL CEO Eric Silagy and encouraged him to publicly embrace the new rules.
“FPL can and must do better than the fancy ads they run suggest,” she said.
Reynolds was one of the leads behind a petition from Our Children’s Trust that pushed Fried’s office to set renewable energy goals, like 17 other states have done. Although she praises Florida’s new strategy of helping local governments build the higher roads, seawalls and buildings they need to adapt to sea level rise, Reynolds wants to see the state address greenhouse gas emissions too.
“It seems to me that instead of allowing the problem to get worse every day, we should address the actual cause of climate change,” she said. “Is that not a worthy goal for our policymakers?”
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