As meteorologists representing Florida’s largest metropolitan areas, we get an up-close-and-personal view of the weather patterns affecting our state from thunderstorms to hurricanes and everything in between. The one constant is sunshine. It rarely stays cloudy very long here in Florida where we get to enjoy hundreds of sunny days per year.
So it only makes sense to have solar panels in a climate like ours. Last year’s record-breaking hurricane season demonstrates Florida is no stranger to the increasing frequency and severity of hurricanes, thunderstorms, flooding and other extreme weather events. From coastal erosion to sea-level rise, these events are taking its toll on our state’s pristine coastlines, homes, businesses and the strength of our entire economy.
This, and the increasing demand for electricity, is why it is critical for Florida to invest in expanding and developing our clean energy infrastructure. Florida has the opportunity to become a leader in solar production. With the reduction of coal power plants, there has never been a more important time to expand our energy sources to become more diversified in the clean energy sector.
Both of us have installed solar panel arrays on our homes to help decrease our personal consumption of electricity generated from fossil fuel sources while increasing the amount of clean, renewable solar energy our state is capable of producing. If you’re able to add solar power to your house we encourage you to look into it also. One of us, Brian, couldn’t afford solar years ago, but now that the price has come down he was able to buy his solar panels for less than what he was paying for his electric bill. At that point it became a no-brainer to go solar.
Going solar doesn’t have to be an intimidating process. We highly recommend that you contact the national non-profit Solar United Neighbors, which will help walk you through it and save you money. The two of us used their “co-op” model to make going solar more affordable and had support throughout the process.
While we can all do our part, we also need policymakers to focus on sustainability and resiliency across the spectrum of American infrastructure. As a state and as a nation, we need to be leaning more into developing our clean and renewable energy resources.
Investments in renewable energy will yield short-term benefits, including creating 21st century jobs, spurring economic growth in our communities, and supporting local businesses in the clean energy economy. Just as important, however, are the long-term benefits, including reduced carbon emissions, cleaner air and water, and a healthier, more sustainable planet for future generations.
Florida has massive potential to expand on its abundantly available, renewable solar energy. This presents an invaluable opportunity to help Florida’s workers who lost their jobs due to the economic downturn following the pandemic enter the high-wage clean energy workforce. This will help strengthen Florida communities while at the same time decreasing our environmental impact.
Our representatives in Tallahassee and in Congress have a golden opportunity to pass bold, forward-thinking solutions that will invest in modernizing and updating our entire electrical grid infrastructure to support the continued development and advancement of clean, renewable energy generation here in Florida and nationwide.
So let’s get moving on America’s clean energy infrastructure. There’s no time to waste.
Brian McClure is a meteorologist at Bay News 9 Tampa Bay. John Morales is a meteorologist at NBC 6 Miami.