Friday, December 2, 2016

St. Pete 1st Southern city to commit to 100% clean energy

City Council Unanimously Approves Integrated Sustainability Action Plan, Combines Climate Action and Resiliency Plans


ST. PETERSBURG, FL -  The St. Petersburg City Council formally approved the city’s commitment to 100% clean, renewable energy on November 21. St. Petersburg is the first city in Florida and the entire Southeast U.S., and 20th city in the U.S., to make such a commitment.


In a unanimous vote, the City Council allocated $250,000 of BP Oil Spill settlement funds to an “Integrated Sustainability Action Plan” (ISAP), which will chart a roadmap to 100% clean, renewable energy in St Petersburg.  In addition, the plan also incorporates components of a climate action plan, a resiliency plan and strategies for St. Petersburg to achieve a 5 STAR Community rating.  The 100% clean energy roadmap builds on Mayor Rick Kriseman’s Executive Order establishing a net-zero energy goal for the City earlier in 2016. 


Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune issued the following statement:

"The movement for clean energy in cities and towns across the country is now
more important than ever. St. Petersburg joins 19 other cities from San Diego, California to Greensburg, Kansas that will lead the way to support equitable and inclusive communities built on 100% clean, renewable energy for all. Whether you’re from a red state or blue state, clean energy works for everyone and local leaders will continue to move forward to create more jobs, stronger communities, and cleaner air and water."  



To celebrate St. Petersburg's achievement, the Suncoast Sierra Club will hold a celebration at the Station House in St. Petersburg on December 9th from 7 to 11 p.m. in St. Petersburg. RSVP to join this celebration.



Phil Compton, Senior Organizing Representative
Sierra Club's FL Healthy Air Campaign
1990 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(o) 727-824-8813, ext. 303      (c) 813-841-3601 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Next Big Vote on Solar in Florida is on November 29


No one thinks it’s a good idea to hike up electric bills—especially not to fund fracked gas imports.
No one, that is, except Florida Power & Light (FPL)—the big power monopoly that just tried to dupe Floridians with its fake solar ballot measure.
As the millions of voters who beat that measure know—FPL will stop at almost nothing to stunt the clean energy economy in the Sunshine State.
Now, FPL has pivoted to the Florida Public Service Commission with a request for customers to fund more than one billion dollars’ worth of new and expanded power plants that burn fracked gas from as far away as Pennsylvania and Texas.  
These power plants are unnecessary, as FPL has admitted homegrown solar and batteries could do at least as good a job of powering Floridian homes and businesses--at competitive prices. To make matters worse, FPL is also using these power plants to try to justify building unnecessary gas pipelines, such as Sabal Trail and Atlantic Sunrise.
The commission actually has an easy decision to make on Nov. 29: It should vote against FPL’s request to charge customers for the unnecessary fracked gas power plants. The request is unlawful because FPL has flunked the test that Florida uses to decide whether power company expenses can be passed on to customers.  
As the commission has held, and the Florida Supreme Court has affirmed, that test is to minimize the cost of service by studying and then taking “every reasonably available prudent action.” FPL did not.
Earlier this summer, when asked if FPL studied non-gas options, the company’s president admitted: “at Florida Power & Light, I don’t know if we have that documentation.” The president and other company executives also admitted that clean energy options such as solar and energy efficiency can be “very cost-effective.”
Yet FPL never studied its clean options before moving forward with the unnecessary power plants.  Indeed, FPL still “doesn’t know” whether it will delay yet another billion-dollar gas plant, in Okeechobee, and the company is asking customers to pay for that, too.
Call the PSC today at 1-800-342-3552 to let them know you oppose FPL's rate hike request for unnecessary gas plants!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Inspiration in a Time of Despair: Michael Brune

This letter was e-mailed to all active Sierra Club members who opt for receiving e-mails (contact membership@sierraclub.org to inquire about your account). We thought it was worth sharing and hope it will offer words of hope, strength and determination after the recent political election.


There's no way right now to ease the shock and dismay of what we're facing today.

Our movement had important wins last night, but those are overshadowed by the specter of a Trump presidency and a Congress still under the control of the fossil fuel industry.

What we do now -- how we respond to this shocking turn of events -- will determine how catastrophic this will be for our environment and our communities.

The very first thing we must do is make sure President Obama does everything he can over the next 71 days to protect our progress on climate action and environmental safeguards.

Send an urgent message to President Obama right now urging him to take swift action before Donald Trump takes office.

Sadness. Anger. Disgust. -- We're all feeling a complicated mix of emotions right now. We've fought hard over the last eight years to make real progress on climate, environmental protections, and so many important issues. And yet the forces that did everything they could to obstruct that progress are now in a position to take us backwards. Now the question is: what do we do next?

Hope. Strength. Determination. -- We will fight and we will resist, but we will not cower in a defensive posture for the next four years. We've fought against long odds many times before -- and won. Remember that our Beyond Coal coalition defeated one coal plant proposal after another -- during the Bush presidency. And though Trump-McConnell-Ryan is a poisonous combination, they can't stop regulators and local governments from choosing clean energy when it's the cheapest and smartest option. They can't stop cities from going to 100-percent clean energy. They can't stop the private sector that wants to be part of the climate solution, not the problem. They can't stop millions of people from exploring and protecting our precious public lands. We'll have to adjust many of our strategies, but we won't allow our progress on climate and clean energy to be stopped. 

We can't afford to give up or waver from our conviction to fight for climate action and against corporate polluters. Take action right now to urge President Obama to do everything in his power to preserve key environmental protections.

This is our moment to refuse to give up. Our resolve is not diminished by the momentary victory of cynicism over hope, hate over compassion, and lies over truth. We have no intention of standing down or succumbing to hopelessness. We can, we must, and we will win this fight.

In the months and years ahead, we will redouble our campaign to fight the fossil fuel industry, and to make sure that our climate and communities are protected from corporate polluters. We will work with you make sure that dangerous fossil fuel projects continue to be challenged in courtrooms, town halls, and on the streets. What's clear is that cities, towns, and states will be the leaders on climate and environmental protection for now.

Send an urgent message to President Obama to urge him to use the next 70 days taking decisive action to protect our environment. Go to www.sierraclub.org and look for ACT NOW on the right side of the home page to send your comments directly. 

Onward, and take care of each other,

Michael Brune
Sierra Club Executive Director

P.S. To fight back, we'll need to build an even bigger movement. Forward this message to five of your friends and family and let them know how they can help protect our environment from Donald Trump and his polluter allies. Or spread the word on social media.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Major Referendum in Brevard County to Save the Indian River Lagoon

by Deborah Longman-Marien - Sierra Club Turtle Coast Group Chair



A major effort is going on right now in Brevard County to get voters to pass a referendum, whose purpose is to begin major restoration to the Indian River Lagoon, 70 percent of which lies in Brevard County. Community volunteers, including many local Sierrans have been pounding the pavement, delivering leaflets door to door, waving signs, and tabling to inform residents of Brevard County the importance of passing the ½ cent sales tax to raise the funds needed over a ten year period to begin to seriously address clean up of the Indian River Lagoon. The project will be overseen by an oversight committee, selected by local members of the coalition and the county, using scientific criteria to oversee the progress of the work and make sure that taxpayers money goes towards the cleanup and restoration of the Lagoon and not towards other expense.

The Brevard Indian River Lagoon Coalition was developed early in 2016. Leaders and representatives of lagoon/water advocacy groups and organizations around the county (and surrounding counties) gathered together to create a large-scale effort to save the Indian River Lagoon once and for all. Local Turtle Coast Group Sierra members were among the founding board members of the Brevard Indian River Lagoon Coalition, a 501c3 non-partisan group. As organizational efforts continued to develop, the fish kill of March 2016 was a clear call for immediate engagement in the community.

The Coalition's first Call to Action event occurred on April 20th at FIT's Gleason Performing Arts Center, where nearly 500 people gathered to listen to experts and community voices and to learn about what was ailing our Lagoon. In the following months, the Coalition continued to organize and draw allies and strategic partners throughout the community to become a true force for education, advocacy, and change. Sierra Club is a major partner.

The results of the planning was that on August 9, 2016, after an afternoon of passionate discussion, after presentation of the Save Our Lagoon Project Plan, Brevard County Commissioners Voted 5-0 to approve the ballot measure, and voted 5-0 in favor of a ½ cent sales tax in order to fund this restoration.

Turtle Coast group gave $500 to the PAC created to get the word out to voters about the issue. The Florida Chapter donated $1000 to the PAC and encouraged members to match that. Florida Chapter and Turtle Coast Group are listed as Strategic Partners in this effort.

If you live in Brevard County, please vote yes on the Referendum. To learn more about this project, http://citizensforthelagoon.org/ and the full plan is found here http://www.brevardcounty.us/docs/default-source/natural-resources-documents/attachment-a-save-our-lagoon-project-plan-072716_final.pdf?sfvrsn=2
visit these sites.

Thank you Sierra Club for your support of Saving the Indian River Lagoon.

Friday, November 4, 2016

WILDLY DIFFERENT VOICES, 12 CITIES, SAME MESSAGE: VOTE NO ON AMENDMENT 1

Nov. 3 "Vote No on 1" rally in Sarasota
On November 3, just days before Election Day, the breadth of the opposition to the anti-solar Amendment 1 was displayed in 12 cities across Florida when Tea Party and Libertarian voters joined forces with solar industry representatives, religious leaders, consumer advocates, and environmentalists to send a clear message to the public: 
Vote No on anti-solar Amendment 1

In Ft. Myers, Gainesville, Hollywood, Pensacola, Miami, Orlando, Sarasota, and Tallahassee, the events were held at or near early voting locations. Others gathered at City Hall in St. Petersburg, Riverwalk in Tampa, a residential solar array in Titusville, and City Dock in West Palm Beach.  The state’s newspapers, TV News and radio stations were all over it with over 20 media stories covering the protests, press conferences and rallies statewide.

Orlando: Nov. 3
You can virtually join the crowd now; post this video on social media! 

“Communities across the country are replacing fossil fuels with solar power at an increasing pace; we can’t let Florida utilities deceive voters and hold back the promise of solar energy in the sunshine state,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club from the steps of St. Petersburg City Hall flanked by Pinellas County Commissioner Kenneth Welch, Mayor Rick Kriseman, city council members Karl Nurse, Darden Rice and and Lisa Wheeler-Brown and Tom Kimbis, National President of the Solar Energy Industries Association.  See/listen here.


Recently released recordings show Florida utilities using misleading information to promote the amendment -- and utilities have also already spent more than $2 million pushing the amendment, which would actually raise the price on solar power for homeowners and businesses and drive out the state’s burgeoning solar industry.

“I'd like to see them take that $20 million and put it in a fund for low income people and elderly people to subsidize solar for them,” said Bishop Carroll R. Johnson, Jr., of Lifevision Church Orlando.

West Palm Beach: Nov. 3
The opposition to the amendment also shows that Floridians want solar power to remain affordable for everyone. “The diversity of the opposition to Amendment 1 is historic” said Kim Ross, President of ReThink Energy Florida “We are all united against the most deceptive amendment Florida voters have ever seen.”

It is not often that organizations from opposite ends of the political spectrum work together but the fight against Amendment 1 has brought the strangest of bedfellows together.  In Tallahassee Catherine Baer, Tea Party Network Chair said:  “As true conservatives, we value free market and competition. Big monopoly utility companies are spending tens of millions of dollars to trick voters into thinking that amendment 1 will promote solar power. However, Amendment 1 will pave the way for the utilities to make it more costly for you to generate your own solar power.”

Jonathan Webber, deputy director of Florida Conservation Voters spoke for everyone when he said “Amendment 1 is a wolf in sheep’s clothing designed to trick voters into keeping the utilities’ monopoly on our energy.”

Solar power is a rapidly growing industry nationwide, and the state should be following that lead to clean clean energy. “The people of the Gulf South, who live, work, and play along the Gulf of Mexico, are ready to transition into clean energy sources that lessen impacts to the environment, create a sustainable job market, and protect human health,” said Mary Gutierrez, Executive Director of Earth Action. “We will no longer allow big industry to dictate the type of energy source we want for our communities. We want our voices heard.”

The statewide rallies held this week show that Floridians are learning more about the deceptive amendment and won’t be tricked on Election Day
Tallahassee: Nov. 3
 



Other elected officials spoke in Gainesville, Miami, Hollywood, Tampa, and West Palm Beach and included State Representative Lori Berman, Alachua County Commissioner Ken Cornell, Broward County Commissioner Beam Furr, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniela Levine Cava, Palm Beach County Commissioner Paulette Burdock, and Tampa City Council Member Quido Maniscalco.

Organizations and businesses participating in the statewide effort included:  Sierra Club, The Tea Party Network, Florida Solar Energy Industry Association, League of Women Voters, SolarCity, ReThink Energy Florida, Solar Direct, Brilliant Harvest, U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce, Floridians for Solar Choice, First GREEN Bank, Citizens” Climate Lobby, The Energy Store, Space Coast Progressive Alliance, Organize Now, Infinite Energy, Inc., Audubon Society of Sarasota, Cutler Bay Solar Solutions, Florida Conservation Voters, Catalyst Miami, Women4Solar, Clean Renewable Energy Worldwide, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Lifevision Church Orlando, ESA Renewables, 15 Light Years, Solar Energy Industries Association, EarthSTEPS, Florida Council of Churches, The Florida Renewable Energy Association, Marine Resources Council, Solar Energy Systems of Brevard, Green Building Council Gulf Coast Chapter, Solar Impact, Vinyasun, American Institute of Architects Florida Chapter, For Our Future, and Earth Action, Inc.

Check out even more photos and videos too here.

Miami:  Nov. 3 - Seas are rising!  So are we!

Titusville:  Nov. 3 - Solar for Florida!

Floridians Want More Solar in Sunshine State - Vote NO on Amendment 1

       Image Source: 
Floridians for Solar Choice: flsolarchoice.org/
In  this tense election season, some of the important ballot measures happening in states and cities nationwide might not have made it onto your radar, but there are some important ones to watch. One of the biggest fights is taking place in Florida, where anti-solar utilities have proposed a very tricky and confusing measure called Amendment 1, which appears to be pro-solar but would actually make solar power more expensive and harder for average people to install on their homes or businesses.
Florida’s utility companies are spending tens of millions of dollars backing this amendment, saying it’ll make solar more prevalent, but a huge and diverse coalition of groups -- from environmental organizations like the Sierra Club to consumer groups to solar-industry trade associations -- are calling the utilities' bluff. The Emmy–award winning climate series Years of Living Dangerously chronicled this drama in their season premiere on the National Geographic channel this week -- click here to watch a behind the scenes videoabout the Florida ballot fight.
In a dramatic turn of events, leaked recordings exposed the devious plot. The New York Times and Miami Herald have uncovered some of the shady dealings behind the scenes by the state’s utility companies:
If Florida voters approve the ballot measure, it could pave the way for utilities to raise fees on solar customers and cast a heavy cloud over the future of rooftop solar energy in Florida….The hidden intent of the proposal was not widely understood until The Miami Herald obtained audio of an expert at a conservative Florida think tank affiliated with one of the utilities. In the audio, which the Herald obtained from the Center for Media and Democracy, an investigative group, the expert praised what he called the “incredibly savvy maneuver” of using the “language of promoting solar” to gain support for the measure. He called it “political jiu-jitsu.”
I’ve listened to the leaked recordings, and they’re jaw-dropping -- the expert essentially brags about how the utilities are using the overwhelming popularity of solar to trick people into voting for an anti-solar amendment to the state’s constitution. It’s true -- approval of Amendment 1 would make solar power more expensive, drive the solar industry away from Florida, and hurt consumers by denying them a cost-effective way to lower energy bills and take action on climate disruption. More than 50 small and large solar companies are fighting the amendment, saying it will allow these large monopoly utilities to limit customer-owned solar.
The Miami HeraldSun Sentinel, and numerous other newspapers around the state have called for a “no” vote -- with the Herald calling the amendment “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” For more on all the unfolding drama and why this is such a bad deal, you can listen here to my recent interview about this tricky business on the United States of Solar podcast.  
Floridians should vote no on Amendment 1 because it’s only good for the big utilities, which have poured more than $21 million into supporting it. Florida can and should be a leader in solar power -- don’t let the utilities draw the shades on solar power in the Sunshine State.



Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Nov. 3 Press Events in 12 Florida Cities to Urge No Vote on Amendment 1

** PRESS ADVISORY **

WILDLY DIFFERENT VOICES, SAME MESSAGE, SAME DAY
Nov. 3 Press Events in 12 Florida Cities to Urge No Vote on Amendment 1

Who:          Elected officials, religious leaders, solar business owners, consumer advocates, environmentalists, solar energy customers, educators, and concerned voters – all fierce opponents of the anti-solar Amendment 1.  See also: http://www.flsolarchoice.org/who-opposes-amendment-1/

When:       Thursday, November 3, 2016

What:         Floridians from all walks of life, of every political stripe from the Tea Party to the Green Party, will gather together for simultaneous events in cities across Florida to send a clear message to Florida voters:  “Vote no on Amendment 1.”

Where:     Early voting locations in Ft. Myers, Gainesville, Hollywood, Miami, Orlando, Pensacola, Sarasota, and Tallahassee.  City Hall in St. Petersburg, Riverwalk in Tampa, a residential solar array in Titusville, and City Dock in West Palm Beach.

*There will be visuals*
Event Locations and Contacts

Ft. Myers
Schandler Park
11:30 am 
419 Royal Palm Park Road, Fort Myers, FL 33905
Contact:  Clifford Mitchem (Clean Renewable Energy Worldwide), 239-218-1354, crewswflsolar@gmail.com

Gainesville
Supervisor of Elections of Alachua County
11:30 a.m.
515 N Main St, Gainesville, FL 32601
Contact:  Barry Jacobson (Solar Impact, Inc.), 352-281-5946, info@solarimpact.com

Hollywood
Hollywood Branch Library
3 p.m.
2600 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, FL 33020
Contact:  Paul Farren (The Energy Store), 954-662-2639, paul@energystore-usa.com

Miami
Stephen P. Clark Government Center 
3 p.m.
111 NW 1ST Street, Miami, FL 33128
Contacts:  Raul Vergara (Cutler Bay Solar Solutions), 786-457-5958, Raul@cutlerbaysolarsolutions.com;
Zelalem Adefris (Catalyst Miami), 651-785-5098, zelalema@catalystmiami.org

Orlando
Across the street from the Supervisor of Elections Office
11:30 a.m.
130 W. Kaley St., Orlando, 325806
Contacts:   Marty Sullivan (League of Women Voters Orange County), 407-484-0112, NatResLWVOC@cfl.rr.com; Athena Montes (Organize Now), 407-267-4266, Athena@organizeflorida.org

Pensacola
Ernie Lee Magaha Government Building
11:30 a.m.
221 Palafox Place, Pensacola, FL 32502
Contact:  Mary Gutierrez (Earth Action, Inc.), 850.549.7472, mary.earthethics@cox.net

Sarasota
Corner of Ringling Blvd and U.S. 301
11:30 a.m.
101 S. Washington Boulevard (U. S. 301), Sarasota, FL 34236
Contact:  Bill Johnson (Brilliant Harvest), 941-359-3700, Bill@BrilliantHarvest.com

St. Petersburg
St Petersburg City Hall – front steps
12 p.m.
175 5th St N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Contact:  Frank Jackalone (Sierra Club), 727-804-1317, frank.jackalone@sierraclub.org;

Tallahassee
11:30 a.m.
301 South Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301
Contacts:  Kim Ross (Rethink Energy Florida), 850-888-2565, kim@rethinkenergyflorida.org
Jonathon Webber (Florida Conservation Voters), 954-593-4449, jwebber@fcvoters.org

Tampa
The Straz Center (on Riverwalk behind)
3 p.m.
1010 N. W.C. MacInnes Place, Tampa, Florida 33602
Contact:  Kent Bailey (Sierra Club), 813-727-1202, kent.bailey@florida.sierraclub.org 

Titusville
Residential rooftop solar array
11:30 a.m.
612 Indian River Avenue, Titusville, FL 32796 (2 houses south of City Hall)
Contact:   Phil Stasik (Space Coast Progressive Alliance), 321-223-9007, stasik@cfl.rr.com

West Palm Beach
City Dock at Clematis Street
11:00 a.m.
Across the street from 101 S. Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Contact:  Jennifer Rennicks (Floridians for Solar Choice), 754-307-7451, jennifer@flsolarchoice.org



###