Citizens for Clean Energy is hosting the second of two energy summits in the wake of the oil spill.
Theirs will be held in Orlando and moderated by Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos, who writes that “nothing should be off the table” for Florida’s energy future.
I’ll be posting live updates on the discussions after the jump.
Some interesting points from the morning sessions, the first of which focused on the economics of alternative energy development:
Advocating for alternative energy is sometimes treated as a liberal cause, but really, “It’s not Democratic or Republican, it’s just smart.” Making wise investments that pay for themselves over time is compatible with conservative principles. – Tico Perez, President, Tico Perez Solutions
“We believe that agriculture can provide for 30 percent of Florida’s energy supply.” – Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson
Florida spends $30 billion a year to import energy from other states and countries. Some 73 percent of our energy comes from imported fossil fuels. – University of Central Florida President John Hitt
Renewable energy will be essential to moving Florida’s economy away from the “three-legged stool” of agriculture, tourism and real estate. – Mike Haridopolos
When it comes to solar technology, the United States is not a leader in the world, and Florida lags behind states like New Jersey, New York, Oregon and most of New England. – Robert Weissert, Florida Tax Watch
The 110 Megawatts FPL is installing in Florida will make it the second largest solar-producing state, but that ranking is likely to be short-lived. Bringing large-scale solar development to Florida will require “stability and predictability.” Over time, “scale is important because that’s what drives prices down.” – Eric Silagy, Senior Vice President, Florida Power & Light
As the fourth-largest energy consumer among US states, Florida has the ability to achieve large-scale development. But the market for photovoltaic solar power is set to achieve “grid parity” (in which solar power becomes as cheap as fossil fuels) in less than five years. Once that happens, the market will be wide open. It is therefore important for Florida to “get in on the bottom.” – M.J. Soileau, Vice President of Research and Commercialization, UCF
If Florida can develop the infrastructure for solar development, “We can be an exporter rather than an importer, because we are the gateway to the Caribbean.” – Miguel Fuentes, Political Director, Florida Carpenters Regional Council
The market for solar power is not a Field of Dreams, where “if you build it they will come.” Solar companies need guaranteed business. Building 700 megawatts of solar capacity over three years will help them secure financing. – Andrea Kilmer, CFO and COO, The ESG Companies
“We have lacked the political will” to make that happen. So what are some specific policies that can get a market for alternative energy going? – Perez, to thunderous applause from the audience, with the exception of the legislators in the room
The states that are ahead of Florida in the solar race are the states that passed renewable portfolio standards and other regulations to encourage alternative energy. “I’m not in a position to say what’s the right method.”- Barry A. Weiss, attorney specializing in business development
“I don’t think there’s any golden model.” But renewable energy requirements triggered new developments in places like Texas. – Silagy, FPL
“There is a cost of doing nothing.” We want the development here rather than elsewhere. – Soileau
A federal renewable standard may pass soon. If Florida waits until the Legislature’s next regular session, we could blow it.”We need to act now, for the economy’s interest.” – Susan Glickman, Florida Business Network for a Clean Energy Economy
Live updates commence:
12:45 Richard Holland, President, Holland Advisors, to discuss renewable energy development in Texas
12:53 What three-mile Island was for nuclear power, the gulf oil spill might be for fossil fuels.
12:58 Texas implemented a wind power mandate of 2880 megawatts, and met the target ahead of schedule. So like hold ‘em poker, “you double down.” The standard has continued to rise, and Texas now has some of the largest wind farms in the country.
1:04 Created 2,000 “direct new jobs,” but indirect effects mean the benefit is far greater.
1:06 Indirect effects mean four to five times as many jobs, and eight to nine times as much gross state product, which comes from manufacturers and maintenance companies that moving to Texas.
1:12 Now, spurred by the oil price spikes of 2008, Texas is looking to expand its biofuel capacity.
1:14 “I put my money on the sun and solar energy … I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out.” – Thomas Edison, 1931 “Nothing like an idea whose time has come, eh?
1:15 We’ll see who wins, Florida or Texas.
1:22 Florida and Texas are tied on their energy efficiency scorecards, and leading the Southeast, but once again, California is leading the way.
1:23 Final thought: Some of the most promising potential gains could come from energy efficiency. “Efficiency can do as much as resource diversification.”
1:40 Next panel, on energy independence, is underway.
1:47 Barney Bishop, CEO of Associated Industries of Florida, favors “an incremental approach” that won’t upset “the way we do business now.” If the environmental community wants a renewable portfolio standard of 20 percent by 2020, “That’s just a nonstarter.”
1:48 Gov. Crist called a special session on offshore drilling.
1:56 “None of our cars run on solar and wind.” Renewable portfolio standards should consider transportation.
1:57 Florida is “the Saudi Arabia of biomass.”
1:59 Is a goal of 20 percent renewable energy by 2020 based on any studies, or just the symmetry of the numbers? If it’s the latter, it’s based on “politics not policy.”
2:05 Each new megawatt of solar energy creates 25 jobs.
2:15 We don’t know enough about the ocean environment – from the shifting currents to the migratory patterns of sealife to the regulatory structure – to pursue offshore renewable energy, such as tidal, wave and offshore wind energy. There’s a confusing “spaghetti network” of regulatory bodies that oversee federal waters. – Susan H. Skemp, Executive Director, Center for Ocean Energy Technology, Florida Atlantic University
2:22 Diversification is important, and both biomass and solar power will play a role. The two forms of power are “almost symbiotic in nature.” Using the two together helps hedge against risks. – Ben Amaba, IBM Worldwide Executive for Complex Systems
2:24 Policy comes first, and technology will follow.- Amaba
2:39 Asked, “If 2020 is a non-starter, then what number is a starter?” Bishop responds that “a single-digit number” may be more realistic. “In this economy, cost is the most important issue.”
2:41 Robert J. Noun of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory said the US could achieve 20 percent wind by 2030, and possibly half that much solar.
2:43 Bishop’s rejoinder: But in Florida,wind is so inconsistent, the state can’t have 20 percent wind power by 2050.
That’s a wrap. On to the open forum for all attendees.