Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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If We Want Lower Utility Bills, State Leaders Need to Fix Outdated Energy Policies

Charlie Behrens

Floridians are paying the price for outdated energy policies that are draining our wallets. Fortunately, these rules and regulations are now being revised by the state. You have an opportunity to have your voice heard in favor of changing the rules so hardworking Floridians can receive real relief on their monthly power bills.

Florida’s Public Service Commission (PSC), the agency that regulates our biggest utility companies, is currently reviewing the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act. The commission should keep consumers in mind and provide the relief we need.

Did you know that our utility companies are legally required to help Floridians find ways to save money and energy? Florida is the fourth-largest energy-consuming state, and it devours almost eight times as much energy as it produces. Yet instead of saving energy, our power companies are proposing that the state’s energy saving goals be reduced to zero.

Helping us save money on our utility bills should be simple. Actions like installing LED lighting and improving insulation are straightforward and really save energy. Updating an air conditioner can make an even bigger difference. After I made these improvements in our own home, our $300 utility bills plummeted. With the addition of solar panels, now we sometimes even generate more energy than we use. Talk about savings!

The PSC should be updating programs and policies to reflect current standards and increasing the state’s energy saving goals, not reducing them.

A key reason more Florida families and businesses don’t take advantage of these big savings is that our monopoly utility companies are not leading energy efficiency programs like they’re supposed to. The truth is that our state’s energy efficiency policies are badly outdated. Florida’s rule for setting energy saving goals is almost 30 years old – from a time when things like smart thermostats didn’t even exist.

As a result of these outdated policies, Florida has fallen far behind other states when it comes to helping families save energy and lower their electric bills. It is critical for the PSC to modernize our state’s energy efficiency regulations to make it easier for families and businesses to access energy efficiency programs.

Using energy smarter is also great for the state’s economy. The energy efficiency industry employs over 100,000 Floridians and keeps energy dollars in local communities, including right here in the Orlando area.

Energy efficiency improvements have been life-changing for my family, and I want all Florida families to be able to take advantage of even more programs like those that helped us save on our bills.

I hope the benefits of greater energy efficiency – both for individual Floridians and for the state as a whole – are highlighted when the PSC makes decisions about these outdated policies. Now is our chance to reverse Florida’s high energy use and create meaningful savings for families and businesses across the state.

Charlie Behrens is a retired IBM Senior Engineering Manager and advocate for energy efficiency. He lives in Orlando. To take action on this issue, please visit EnergySmartFL.com

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