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Samantha Stratton: A smart energy plan is necessary for Florida

One issue bubbling to the surface is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Power Plan. The EPA has extended the deadline to collect additional public comments on the plan to Dec. 1.

We support new clean-energy strategies for Florida and the programs that already exist. The U.S. has been working toward affordable and secure clean-energy solutions. The EPA Clean Power Plan for Florida needs to be tweaked in order to keep an important balance between sustainability and reliability.

In its current form, the plan eventually will increase energy costs for homeowners and businesses. Consumers will ultimately pay those higher costs.

It is important for Florida to make economically smart and environmentally sound policies. We have seen a resurgence in American economic development partly because of our energy industry. We are putting people back to work in well-paying jobs.

Greenhouse gas emissions continue to fall in the U.S. and that trend will continue with smart energy policy. Hundreds of Florida retailers have become energy savvy by devoting resources to sustainable efforts. They work hard to conserve energy in their buildings, cut back on other types of waste such as food and products, and continue to keep their communities clean.

In September, the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) submitted a memo to the EPA outlining the effects of the proposed rule.

“The proposed GHG rule has the potential for significant rate and reliability impacts on Florida consumers. The capital expenditures totaling almost $27 billion to reach the reductions proposed are unreasonable.

“Florida’s unique peninsular geography and limited import transmission capabilities isolate Florida in such a manner that a reasonable final goal for Florida must be determined using Florida-specific data rather than national or regional data. The EPA should establish achievable state goals based on a state-specific analysis conducted by the relevant state agencies using the best system of emission reduction methods achievable at the source.”

Market forces are helping to lessen the environmental damage from power production as the abundance of natural gas is displacing coal. The proposed EPA rules would seek to impose guidelines that would cause many power plants to close without letting the beneficial process to continue.

Recent polling results by Paragon Insights, released by the Partnership for a Better Energy Future, found that voters in Florida and nationwide have major concerns about the EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas regulations and are unwilling to pay even a dollar more for energy in exchange for these new rules. Of those surveyed, 53 percent agree that the United States cannot afford new costs and potential job losses resulting from the EPA regulations.

The Florida Retail Federation encourages the public to become educated and get involved in this energy issue. We all need to know how buildings and homes are provided with electricity.

We also need to know how to properly care for our environment and how to approach it without damaging our economy. Take a moment to comment to the EPA before the Dec. 1 deadline and ask the EPA to consider a more Florida specific approach to the current plan.

Samantha Stratton, spokeswoman for Florida Retail Federation. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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