This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

July 02, 2008

Florida Energy Bill to Boost Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Florida Governor Charlie Crist approved on June 25 a wide-ranging energy bill that intends to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy within the state while cutting the state's emissions of greenhouse gases. House Bill 7135 requires the Florida Public Service Commission to establish a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that will specify a minimum percentage of retail electricity sales that must be supplied by renewable energy, but the bill does not set the minimum standard or a timeline. Instead, the bill requires the commission to prepare a draft rule by February 2009 and present it to the legislature for approval. The bill also requires the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to create a cap-and-trade regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from major emitters. Again, the bill sets no specific limits and requires any program to be ratified by the legislature. The RPS and greenhouse gas program will presumably follow the targets included in executive orders issued by Governor Crist last year. See the article from the EERE Network News on those executive orders.

The bill does have more specifics in other areas. To coordinate the state's efforts on energy and climate change, the bill establishes the Florida Energy and Climate Commission. Regarding fuels, the bill requires all gasoline sold in the state (with some exceptions) to contain 10% ethanol by the end of 2010. The bill establishes a telecommuting program for state agencies and requires those agencies to buy or lease fuel-efficient vehicles and to use ethanol or biodiesel fuel blends when available. It also allows hybrids and other low-emission and energy efficient vehicles to use the high-occupancy-vehicle lanes without paying a toll, regardless of the number of passengers in the car.

For utilities, the bill requires the Florida Public Service Commission to set goals for the use of customer-located renewable energy systems and to help meet those goals, it requires each public utility to develop a standardized interconnection agreement and net metering program for such systems by the beginning of next year. It also requires the same of municipal and rural electric utilities by July 1, 2009. For customers with anaerobic digesters, the bill requires utilities to offer net metering for multiple electric meters. The bill also authorizes the commission to allow utilities to earn greater profits for saving energy. In addition, the bill expands the state's Innovation Incentive Program to include renewable energy projects, creates a new grant program to help local governments achieve green standards, and expands the state's Renewable Energy Technology Grants Program to include energy efficiency technologies for vehicles and commercial buildings.

Regarding buildings, the bill requires the Florida Building Commission to prepare a 2010 edition of the Florida Energy Efficiency Code for Building Construction that increases the energy performance of new buildings by at least 20% relative to the 2007 Florida Building Code, increasing to a 50% performance improvement by the 2019 edition. The bill also requires new buildings constructed and financed by the state to be designed and built to meet nationally recognized green building standards, and it requires the same standards for all buildings used by the state's counties, cities, school districts, water management districts, state universities, community colleges, and state courts. The same standards apply to renovations of existing state buildings. The bill also requires state agencies to lease Energy Star-rated buildings and to employ energy saving performance contracts to upgrade existing facilities. It also encourages state agencies to buy climate-friendly products and to use "green" hotels and conference facilities. See a staff analysis of the bill (PDF 356 KB) or go directly to the full 237-page text (PDF 595 KB). Download Adobe Reader.