George Riley: Approving cost-effective Solar Together program is a no brainer

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Solar Together is a great example of how Florida can increase access to solar energy.

Last month, I proudly joined Conservatives for Clean Energy as their new Florida Director. Our group was founded in North Carolina in 2014 to educate the public and decision-makers on the economic benefits of clean energy and advocate for continued investments across the Southeast.

The good news is that Florida has made enormous strides in growing clean energy. We are on track to outpace the solar growth in the rest of the southeast and surpass Georgia for the No. 2 spot for installed solar capacity. Part of the reason Florida is seeing so much growth in solar energy is because it has achieved parity with traditional energy generation sources like coal and natural gas. Solar is more practical than ever before, allowing for an increase in cost-effective investments.

The Solar Together program currently awaiting approval by the Florida Public Service Commission is key to Florida’s renewable energy growth. If approved, Solar Together will be the largest community solar project in the United States and is one example of using market solutions to help expand the use of renewable energy. This program will help bring much-needed fuel diversity to Florida, making our power grid more secure and resilient by reducing our reliance on natural gas.

Supporting smart investments in clean, renewable energy is not a partisan issue, and can and should be supported by regardless of political party. Gov. Ron DeSantis understands the importance of this issue, having said he is “supportive of programs that will provide Floridians with greater access to affordable, clean energy which will help propel the State to a healthier future.” Solar Together will do just that.

The program allows businesses and individuals to choose whether they would like to purchase some or all of the energy they use from solar. They pay a fixed rate, and in return, they receive a monthly credit on their bill that will grow over time. Demand for this program is so great that it is already more than half sold out. Additionally, by adding more renewable energy into the mix, the program is expected to save all customers money by lowering fuel costs to operate other power plants. Making the program optional but providing savings for all customers is a win-win for everyone.

Solar Together is a great example of how Florida can increase access to solar energy, while providing good value and low costs along with a dramatic increase in clean, renewable energy that will benefit the entire state. I trust the Public Service Commission will give this program their full support and launch Florida into its proper place as a renewable energy leader.

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George Riley is the state director for Conservatives for Clean Energy Florida.  He is a former executive director of the Republican Party of Florida from 2016-2019.

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