Florida TaxWatch has a released a report (.pdf) detailing its findings from a statewide survey that indicates citizens overwhelmingly support expanding the use of renewable energies throughout the state, and that more than 70 percent of those polled say they are willing to pay a dollar or more on their monthly utility bill to do so.
The nonprofit, nonpartisan group is stressing that with a new governor, cabinet and legislative leadership coming to Tallahassee, focused on job creation and responsible government spending, the time is now to make good on those goals as well as to take advantage of a public that has demonstrated an “understanding and willingness to balance the short and long-term costs and benefits of a pragmatic renewable energy policy.”
“The benefits of a vibrant renewable energy policy should far outweigh both environmental and financial costs over the long term. However, it is important to ensure consumers are ready and willing to make the necessary investment, particularly in this very tough economy” said Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. “This survey provides valuable insight for our new Governor, Cabinet and lawmakers as they work to build meaningful renewable energy policies that will create good paying jobs.”
“Floridians are looking for leadership and appear ready to support substantive policies that will solve both immediate and long-term challenges that face our state and economy,” Calabro said. “Every new job created in Florida can put someone who was unemployed/ underemployed to more productive work and result in significant taxpayer savings. Our newly elected leaders should be encouraged by Floridians willingness to embrace renewable energy policies that can get people back to work sooner rather than later.”
The report also cited findings from an econometric analysis (.pdf) by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory which claims that more than 95,000 new jobs could be created if Florida were to push for 1,500 megawatts of solar energy production, underlining the fact that our state has a natural competitive advantage for solar projects with an average 361 days of sunshine. The analysis goes so far to say that solar “is Florida’s opportunity to lose.”
Expanding solar energy production will provide man benefits to Florida. A critical mass of installed solar energy production will lead to permanent, high paying jobs in Florida. The demand for so-called “green collar” jobs has been driven by an expanding solar market, which supports 15-30 jobs per MW produced. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s economic data estimates that if Florida installed 1,500 MW up to 45,000 direct jobs and 50,000 indirect jobs would be created. These stable, high paying jobs could be a necessity to an energy-driven state struggling in the current economic crisis.
Rick Scott’s office did not return calls or email seeking comment. During the campaign, Scott noted his support for offshore drilling, expanding nuclear energy, and using alternative fuels to diminish our dependence on foreign oil.
Highlights from the TaxWatch report:
- Floridians have the highest favorable opinion of solar energy (87 percent), but also like other clean energy sources, including natural gas (78.6 percent), wind (77.5 percent), and waste-to-energy (67.4 percent).
- Floridians cite job creation and attracting high-tech industry as the two most important reasons for investing in renewable energy.
- A majority of Floridians believe that more of the state’s energy comes from renewable sources than actually does.
- 83.4 percent of Floridians have reduced or are planning to reduce their own energy consumption at home.
- About 8 percent of Floridians have invested in their own renewable energy generation such as rooftop solar panels, and another 26.7 percent are considering it.
- Support spans party and gender lines.