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I don't normally editorialize in this news section, but I hope that everyone who reads this, will pro-actively write, call or speak with their representatives at the State and Local levels and try to get this program enacted in this legislative session. Also, please forward this Florida Renewable Energy Association article to everyone you know and join the FREA.

Yes we can!

Paul Farren, Founder and CEO of The Energy Store.

The time has come for Florida to take action
to establish a reliable, long-term funding program
 for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency!

As the past three years have demonstrated, Florida's current method of funding a renewable energy stimulus program has been severely insufficient. Each year, crucial incentives and pilot projects for an evolving industry must compete with standard government services such as education and law enforcement. A budding industry requires secure, long-term commitments to spur investment and achieve the growth that is urgently needed in renewable energy today. Yet, the funds allocated for this year's solar rebate program were depleted by the previous year's unpaid requests before the fiscal year had even begun. And the coming budget year only promises to be more severe. Therefore, we propose the implementation of a tried-and-true funding method with broad public appeal that would be independent of the state's general fund and capable of the amounts and terms required to meet the imperative of our energy and environmental crises.

What is the Florida Clean Energy Trust Fund proposal?
A charge of one-half mil would be assessed to the kilowatt-hour consumption for each electric utility customer in Florida. This would be approximately 60 cents per month on the average residential electric bill. Larger consumers would pay proportionally more and smaller consumers would pay less. Based on Florida's 2006 total electricity consumption, this would generate $114 million per year. This amount would allow Florida to go well beyond its pilot program of an uncertain $5 million and establish a long-term comprehensive clean energy development program. The initial term of the program would be for 10 years to create stability in market stimulus and allow a greater impact for educational programs.

A remarkable aspect of this plan is that by replacing only one 100-watt light bulb with a CFL, the average residential consumer would save enough money to pay for the new bulb and offset the proposed fee. So basically, Floridians are being asked to conserve energy and then use the savings to fund an important program.

Has this type of program been used before?
Yes. Eighteen other states currently have successful renewable energy and energy efficiency programs funded in this way with total fund amounts ranging from $2 million to $300 million depending on the size of the state. Studies done by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Clean Energy States Alliance have all concluded that this public benefit fund method is a preferred tool for states to advance clean energy and energy efficiency. It has received strong public support in the states where it has been established. Furthermore, in a 2008 public opinion poll, 81% of Floridians said they were willing to pay up to a dollar a month to support this type of program.

What are the objectives that the Clean Energy Fund would seek to achieve?
There are four principal goals the fund would be directed toward:
  • To educate Floridians on the importance of energy efficiency and renewable   energy with information on readily available and cost-saving solutions
  • To provide financial assistance to Floridians for the purchase and long-term        financing of renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements
  • To establish secure, long-term market conditions for investors, manufacturers, and installation contractors for creating Florida jobs, achieving lower installation costs, and raising industry standards
  • To provide incentive packages for solar manufacturing companies who establish factories in Florida thereby employing Floridians and eliminating high shipping costs
Exactly how would the funds be spent?
Evaluations would be done each year to determine the most effective distribution of the funds. However, a proposal for an initial allocation is as follows:
  50% - Financial incentives for residential and commercial installations of qualifying
           clean, renewable energy generation systems such as photovoltaic and solar
  25% - Low-interest loan program for residential solar installations and energy                    efficiency improvements
  10% - Incentive program for in-state photovoltaic manufacturing
    8% - High-profile public awareness and clean energy education program
    5% - Administration
    2% - Monitoring and evaluation

Under no circumstance would the rebate allocation be allowed to drop below 50%, so as to assure market stability and encourage investment. The educational campaign would be designed to assist current utility demand-side management programs.

Who would administer the fund?
A department within the Florida Office of Energy and Climate Change would be tasked to administer the fund. An advisory board appointed to represent public interests and industry concerns would oversee the administration. The advisory board appointments would be made to insure broad representation of the public interest.

Will there be allowances for low-income residents or large industrial consumers?
Anyone currently receiving low-income government assistance would qualify for an exemption from the fee. The educational component would provide assistance to large residential and commercial consumers on how energy efficiency improvements can easily offset the fee amount.

How can I support this proposal?
Call or write your state representatives today and tell them Florida needs a Clean Energy Trust Fund. Forward this information to friends and colleagues. Urge your organization or company to endorse this campaign. Learn more at

Workshop on the Florida Clean Energy Trust Fund Proposal
The Florida Renewable Energy Association is currently in the planning stage for a full-day workshop on the potential of a Florida clean energy fund with a tentative date of January 23. Please stay tuned for more information. If you have any questions or comments, contact Craig Williams at (352) 241-4733 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
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