The latest press release from The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy emphasized significant economic benefits in the Sunshine State that could result from lifting solar policy barriers. “Economic Growth Potential of Solar Could Have a Sunny Future in Florida” notes that Florida could move forward from being one of the substandard states to one of the top five solar states, and enjoy a “robust solar market” and economic boost as a result.
The Southern Alliance For Clean Energy is convincing, with the press release coming out just before Governor Rick Scott’s Economic Growth Summit. It highlights the fact that solar power brings strong job growth. Unquestionably, increasing solar-friendly policies will help the Sunshine State live up to its nickname.
The press release highlights a Clean Jobs Florida report that shares the state’s potential overall clean jobs potential. Sizing up Florida’s clean energy job base, the study indicates the majority of clean energy businesses are small businesses. Nearly 75% of these small businesses employ fewer than 10 clean energy employees. Growth in these clean energy companies over the earlier 12 months was 11%.
Even with this expansion, Florida, the state with the third-highest rooftop solar power potential in the nation — falls behind other states with much less solar potential. Florida ranks only 13th for installed solar capacity (234 megawatts presently).
This lagging placement in spite of the ample sunshine in the state is due to the lack of policy progress in Florida. Basically, Florida is in need of solar policies. Florida’s future necessitates renewable energy standards and power purchase agreements, which have supported solar investment and jobs in other states.
The work of helping to move the Sunshine State to where it should and could be is dependent on state leaders’ willingness to do what is right for needs at this time:
“The Sunshine State should be leading the country in clean energy jobs, yet in recent years it has been left in the shadows by other states that actually have smart policies to encourage clean energy growth,” Bob Keefe, executive director of the national nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), said when the Clean Jobs Florida report was released in the fall. “Fortunately, Florida has a solid foundation on which to build – now it just needs its state leaders to take action to create jobs that are good for both the state’s economy and its environment.”
“Solar creates high-paying, long-term, skilled blue-collar jobs,” Mike Antheil, executive director of Florida Solar Energy Industries Association (FlaSEIA). “Like any other construction project, there is an entire value chain of labor, engineering, procurement and sales that have roots deep within each Florida community near a solar project. Allowing for more solar options in Florida will create more local jobs and the best part about the ballot initiative is there are no special incentives needed.”
“More pro-solar policies in the state of Florida will have a positive impact on the economy for both businesses and citizens. The free market, if allowed to flourish for any industry, will bring untold benefits through job creation to the state,” Tory Perfetti, Florida director of Conservatives for Energy Freedom. “The more we adhere to the free market, the better off all businesses and citizens will be. Let us remember, a majority of solar industry jobs pay very well and support the middle class, something that Florida needs. Good paying jobs that are created not mandated will always be healthy for any state’s economy.
“If a solar ballot initiative is approved, solar development across the state will explode, creating thousands of new jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in new economic activity,” said Solar Energy Industries Association President and CEO Rhone Resch. “Florida has the potential to quickly become a Top 5 solar state while saving money for homeowners, businesses, schools, churches and local governments.”
Most weeks in Florida, the sun seems never-ending. It makes sense to harness that tremendous solar energy. Quoted in an earlier Solar Love article, Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance, points to the obvious: “It’s a real injustice that the solar market in the Sunshine State is being held back. It basically is the largest untapped market in the United States.”
“Technology has changed in favor of consumers, and will continue to improve. Utilities must adapt to a present and future where consumers are empowered both in terms of their electricity consumption and their mindsets,” Solar Love adds.
Many do want to live up to the Sunshine State’s environmentally safe power generation potential. A Floridians for Solar Choice ballot effort brought the collaboration of diverse interests earlier this year. Tea Partiers, conservatives, and liberals all came together to progress solar in the state. Almost everyone wants it, but for some reason, certain people in power aren’t moving the state forward.
Images by Cynthia Shahan
Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.