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Public Benefit Funds PDF Print E-mail
The below letter was sent by Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda; Representative, Florida House District 9, to The Legislaive leadership and Governor Christ. The proposal is for a method that has been used in several states to raise funding for energy conservation and renewable energy projects with only a very minimum finacial committment on the part of the consumers.

September 17, 2010


The Honorable Charlie Crist

Governor, State of Florida

PL 05, The Capitol

Tallahassee, Florida 32399


The Honorable Larry Cretul

Speaker, Florida House of Representatives

402 South Monroe Street

Room 420, The Capitol

Tallahassee, Florida  32399-1300


The Honorable Jeff Atwater

President, The Florida Senate

404 South Monroe Street

Room 409, The Capitol

Tallahassee, Florida  32399


Dear Governor Crist, Speaker Cretul and President Atwater:


I write to secure your support for a bipartisan legislative proposal to provide necessary funding for Floridas businesses and homeowners to install solar panels and to make other essential energy conservation improvements to residential and commercial properties which would also help stimulate the economy by creating green jobs.


In recent days, there has been considerable public attention given to the states popular solar rebate program created in 2006. I appreciate the public debate about this important topic and I am hopeful that the discussion leads to a productive outcome and a more secure energy future for Florida.

While I support Governor Crists request for action from the Legislative Budget Commission to put to use available federal funds for the states popular solar rebate program, I write today to draw your attention to an alternative strategy. I urge your support for creating a Public Benefits Fund as a secure, recurring source of funding for renewable energy programs.


During the 2010 legislative session, I sponsored a bill with Republican state Senator Mike Bennett of Bradenton to establish this fund and, in doing so, expect to relieve or eliminate the estimated $52 million backlog in funding the states solar rebate program.  When we introduced this legislation, 22 other states had established some sort of Public Benefit Fund to support renewable and energy efficiencies and conservation projects.  


Under a Public Benefits Fund, a monthly 0.25 cents charge, or $3 a year, to each Florida utility customer, will yield substantial funding for renewable energy initiatives, energy conservation strategies, and to help our residents homeowners and businesses to make needed improvements, as well as to restore the solar rebate program.


In addition, by designing the fund as a Direct Support Organization, as Senator Bennett and I proposed in House Bill 1267, House Bill 1269, Senate Bill 2404 and Senate Bill 2406, Florida will be permitted to put to use additional funds from the federal government, grant monies, bequests, and other gifts.


As you might imagine, the benefit of creating such a fund goes far beyond helping Florida meet our states energy needs and modernizing infrastructure. Creating a Public Benefits Fund also will help our economy by creating new jobs and employing more Floridians in the burgeoning renewable energy sector.


Only through adopting significant policies to change our energy future can we truly make a difference for generations to come.


I look forward to hearing soon of your support for this important and bipartisan -- policy proposal. Thank you for your serious consideration.





Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda

Representative, Florida House District 9




cc:   Representative Franklin Sands         

        Representative Geraldine F. Thompson

        Senator Alfred Al Lawson, Jr.

        Senator Charlie Justice



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