Rep. Keith Fitzgerald on Legislature's lack of action
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05/08/09 Arielle Stevenson
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Last year, Gov. Charlie Crist bucked party lines by endorsing clean energy at the the Global Summit for Climate Change, promising to invest in renewable technologies and reduce carbon emissions.

As lawmakers in the Tallahassee wrap up another legislative session today it looks like Florida has made little progress toward greener fuels.

Democratic State representative Keith Fitzgerald of Sarasota spoke with WMNF earlier this week about the state’s clean energy portfolio. Fitzgerald says that while Florida has improved renewable initiatives in the last two years, this year’s session leaves much to be desired.

Last year the Florida Legislature asked the Public Service Commission (PSC) to make recommendations on how to improve Florida’s renewable portfolio. Fitzgerald says when the PSC returned, the Legislature paid little attention to what they had to say.

Fitzgerald’s renewable dividend legislation may not have passed but he says it started a conversation. His proposal would allow small residential and business owners to produce their own solar energy and sell it back to the utility companies. The producers would sell at the rate that utilities charge, resulting in a profit for the producers. This would give incentive for more people to invest in solar, thus lowering the cost of the technology. It would also result in decreased dependence on fossil fuels for Florida and create jobs in green technology construction.

Gainesville adopted a similar program called Feed In Tarriffs on a small scale earlier this year. Many of the residents and businesses that have installed solar technology, installed “turn-key” systems. This enables them to either produce energy solely for themselves or redirect to the grid for mass use. Fitzgerald says that adopting renewable dividend program has benefits that appeal to both sides of the aisle, as well as the environment.

With a step back in progressive renewable legislation in this year’s session, Fitzgerald predicts next year will undoubtedly prove more fruitful.

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