TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A new study released indicates that a combination of energy efficiency and renewable energy can reduce Florida’s future electricity needs by almost half (45 percent) over the next 15 years.
The study shows that implementing energy efficiency policies alone, such as efficient windows, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and Energy Star® appliances, can almost offset the future growth in electric demand.
The study, "Potential for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to Meet Florida’s Growing Energy Demands," was conducted by researchers at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) in Washington, D.C. Based on ACEEE research with support from national and Florida experts, the study outlines policies to reduce electricity demand through energy efficiency and to develop renewable energy resources such as wind and solar. The efficiency policies would moderate 2023 electricity demand by 19 percent, while the renewable policies would reduce conventionally generated electricity by an additional 26 percent, for a total reduction of 45 percent.
ACEEE designed its study to assess where Florida gets its energy from, what it costs, how it is used, and what the future might hold if we use existing technology to slow demand without difficult sacrifices for industry or consumers.
Florida’s electricity demand is growing faster than the state’s population. A particular challenge is peak demand - those times when extreme heat or extreme cold crank up air conditioners and heaters. Peak demand is growing even faster than total electricity usage, and it costs the most to serve. Peak-hour electricity costs several times what consumers see in average rates, because high-cost “peaker” power plants run less efficiently and operate only a few hours a year so that their costs drive up rates.
According to ACEEE, today Florida generates only 0.1 percent of its electricity from renewable resources, compared to a national average of 2.3 percent. Florida also has not aggressively implemented energy efficiency policies, even though energy efficiency is a very affordable resource. States from Texas to Vermont are finding energy efficiency resources available at less than 4 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared to the expected cost of power from new plants of 5 to 10 cents.
“Energy efficiency is the most affordable energy resource in Florida,” said Dr. R. Neal Elliott, industrial program director at ACEEE and lead author of the report. “While 19 percent efficiency savings may seem challenging, other states are already reducing electricity growth at higher rates than that, at a cost of less than 4 cents per kilowatt-hour. Efficiency resources are available in this cost range in every state, including Florida.”
“Energy efficiency is the first fuel in the race for affordable and clean energy, because it is the cheapest and fastest to deploy,” said Bill Prindle, ACEEE’s acting executive director. “Combined with renewables, efficiency offers Florida a sustainable energy future that provides greater energy security, costs less, pollutes less, and supports economic growth better than its current course.”
The study recommends five key policies as building blocks for this new energy future:
• An energy efficiency resource standard that sets savings targets for utilities, as Texas and several other states have done;
• More stringent building energy codes that make Florida’s buildings much more efficient in the future;
• An advanced buildings program that changes building practices, reducing energy demand;
• Onsite renewables policies that help meet much of these advanced buildings’ energy demand with solar energy; and
• A renewable portfolio standard that sets a target for utilities to procure a share of their power from renewable energy resources such as wind and solar, which more than 20 other states have done.
This report will be followed by a second study that will assess the economic impacts of these investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy resources. Analyses in other states have found that these types of investments typically produce twice the jobs and in-state economic growth that are produced from an equivalent investment in power plants.
The report, "Potential for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to Meet Florida’s Growing Energy Demands," is available for free download at http://aceee.org/pubs/e072.htm or a hard copy can be purchased for $35 plus $5 postage and handling from ACEEE Publications, 1001 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 801, Washington, DC 20036-5525.