In a bid to make Florida switch to cleaner sources of energy, two identical bills were filed by the Florida legislators — Anna Eskamani and Sen. José Javier Rodríguez. This can be seen as part of the United States larger goal of shifting towards renewable energy to mitigate the ill-effects that have emanated from the use of fossil fuels. The bills seek to make the state adopt 100% renewable energy by 2050 and direct the Office of Energy (that comes under the State Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services) to create a unified plan for the same.
The bill also directs the office to coordinate with other state agencies, universities, colleges and other public/private partners. It is also required to formulate interim goals that would enable Florida to generate at least 40% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Many have expressed the growing need to make the Sunshine State a leader in renewable energy. In 2016, St Petersburg became the first city in Florida to have committed itself to use 100% renewable energy.
Many cities like Tallahassee, Orlando, Sarasota, Dunedin, Largo and Gainesville have already adopted 100% clean energy sources. Environment America’s 100% Renewable Energy campaign is also working on legislation in at least 11 states — Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas and Washington. More than a hundred cities in the US have pledged to move onto 100% renewable energy use. These campaigns are seen as multi-state initiatives that are being taken to promote clean, environment-friendly energy across the country.
Not just legislation at the state level, but major companies like Bank of America, Walmart and Anheuser-Busch have undertaken the usage of renewable energy for their operations. This signals a combined effort to move towards sustainability by employing safer energy sources. Non-renewable energy sources like coal, oil and natural gas end up polluting the environment. There are several downsides to such sources.
The conversion of fossil fuels into usable energy leads to harmful emissions, which has been held responsible for the deteriorating air quality across several states. They are also limited in supply, unlike renewable energy sources – wind, solar, hydropower and biomass. From acid rain and greenhouse gas emissions (which ultimately leads to climate change) to oil spills, land pollution and waste generation, non-renewable energy sources harm the environment in more than one way.
Rise in the sea level has been an issue that has received little attention in Florida. However, being a low-lying peninsula, Florida is susceptible to rising areas, which makes it an issue that needs immediate attention of policy makers and environmentalists. Thus, efforts are on to make the state give up its reliance on the heavily polluting nonrenewable resources. Despite the proposals being introduced and the provisions being made, Florida has some distance to cover when it comes to making a complete transition to renewable energy. A long road lies ahead, which can be covered at a faster pace if policies, technology and finances come to its aid.
Several other measures are being taken by universities and companies. For instance, Florida A&M University approved a partnership with Duke Energy Florida last week for the construction of a solar facility. The electricity that will be generated will go into their electric grid and will be delivered to businesses, schools, homes and to other customers.
The Florida Power and Light Company (FPL), in January, announced its 30-by 30- plans with the objective to install more than 30 million solar panels by 2030 in order to make Florida a world leader in the production of solar energy. This plan is meant to encourage the construction of cost-effective and efficient solar generation. They have also acquired solar sites for the purpose of building these solar energy centers. If the plan is executed successfully, this might be the largest installation of solar panels in the world. It will also facilitate a 67% reduction in Carbon Dioxide emissions by 2030.
The effects of using non-renewable energy are innumerable and the irreversible to a very large extent. Floridians are already witnessing the effects of severe environmental distress. The hurricanes, the change in climate and the rising sea level are a testimony to this. The only thing that can come as a strong step towards conservation is the use of renewable energy that does not contribute to pollution.
The introduction of these bills, along with the initiatives taken by organizations and efforts of citizens at an individual level, coupled with the advances in technology and the declining costs of renewable energy, can promote cleaner energy and help in keeping Florida away from the ill-effects of pollution.