Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sierra Club Stands with Government Officials as They Send a Message to Duke Energy

Gulfport City Council Member Yolanda Roman
The Florida Beyond Coal campaign celebrated Earth Day by standing with a group of elected officials outside Duke’s Florida headquarters and delivering a letter calling on Duke to prioritize clean energy options like solar and energy efficiency.

Signed by 25 federal, state, county and local elected officials, the letter ratchets up the pressure on Duke just as its regulatory body, the Florida Public Service Commission, begins hearings on the future of Florida’s energy portfolio.

The sign-on letter is a project of the Sierra Club-led Sunshine State Clean Energy Coalition. The Coalition is an alliance of business, faith, labor, consumer, public health, and environmental organizations in Florida who advocate for Florida’s utility companies to invest in clean, local solar energy.

St. Petersburg City Council Member Karl Nurse
The State of Florida, along with utility providers like Duke Energy, needs to embrace the accelerated inclusion of sustainable energy sources in their long-term portfolios,” said Sam Henderson, Mayor of Gulfport. “They have an obligation to take a leadership role in mitigating climate change by phasing out the use of coal in favor of non-fossil fuel alternatives." 

Duke’s energy efficiency program in Florida is roughly half the effort that it performs in its home state of North Carolina,” said Karl Nurse, City Councilman for St. Petersburg’s’ District 6.” The result is that Floridian’s bills are higher, energy use is higher and our air is dirtier. Duke should step up and provide its Florida customers with the same energy efficiency programs as it does in North Carolina."

Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson

Speaking for Duke’s customers, the elected officials made clear that they want the Sunshine State to live up to its name.  In sending this letter, these officials are signaling that they want to Duke to get serious about growing jobs, saving customers money, and ensuring that Florida is a leader in clean energy production for years to come.

To read the Tampa Bay Times report about the event:

Elected officials letter to Duke Florida President Alex Glenn:

Congresswoman Kathy Castor * Florida Representative Dwight Dudley * Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni * Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch * Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice * Hernando County Commissioner Diane Rowden * St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman * Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson * Largo Mayor Pat Gerard * Safety Harbor Mayor Andy Steingold * Belleair Bluffs Vice Mayor Joseph A. Barkley, III * St. Petersburg City Council Member Karl Nurse * St. Petersburg City Council Member Darden Rice * St. Petersburg City Council Member Amy Foster * St. Petersburg City Council Member Charlie Gerdes * St. Petersburg City Council Member Bill Dudley * St. Petersburg City Council Member Steve Kornell * St. Petersburg City Council Member Jim Kennedy * Seminole Council Member Patricia Plantamura * Gulfport Council Member Michael Fridovich * Gulfport Council Member Yolanda Roman * Largo Commissioner Michael Smith * Largo Commissioner Jamie Robinson * Safety Harbor Commissioner Andy Zodrow * Largo Commissioner Robert Murray *  

                                                                                                            April 22, 2014

Alex Glenn
President, Duke Energy-Florida
299 First Avenue North
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701

Dear Mr. Glenn:

As public officials, we are writing to express our support for clean energy and urge your company to deepen its investment in energy efficiency and solar power in Florida. The areas of the country that move the fastest toward energy efficiency and solar power will generate the largest share of both manufacturing and installation jobs. We recognize the economic, health and environmental benefits that a shift to clean energy can bring our state and our communities. We also know that your leadership here is vital, especially in the upcoming proceedings before the Florida Public Service Commission that will determine Florida’s energy portfolio for years to come.  

During this year’s FPSC proceedings, Duke Energy Florida and the state’s other major utilities will develop goals and implementation plans for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs to save customers money while protecting public health and the environment. But today, Duke’s annual energy savings in Florida fall far below the savings Duke has achieved in other states, and Florida has fallen from the ranks of clean energy leaders. Remarkably, twenty six states have better energy efficiency and conservation programs than Florida, according to a recent study by the country’s leading energy efficiency experts at the American Council on Energy Efficiency Economy. This means energy is being wasted at the expense of Florida’s utility bill payers, public health and environment. To correct course, we urge you to submit energy efficiency goals to the Public Service Commission this year that match or exceed the energy savings that your company is achieving in other states. 

The Sunshine State has some of the best potential for solar power in the country, yet we are currently ranked 16th among states for installed solar capacity. Duke has virtually no solar installed in-state and so we are missing a key opportunity “to help diversify fuel types to meet Florida’s growing dependency on natural gas for electric production, minimize the volatility of fuel costs, encourage investment within the state, improve environmental conditions, and make Florida a leader in new and innovative technologies,” as intended in Florida’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act. 

Many communities that we represent are already feeling the effects of power sector pollution and climate disruption. Putting Florida on a path to homegrown clean energy and decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels is the best way for our state to safeguard public health and the environment while mitigating the worst impacts of climate disruption. 

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.