Utility regulators in Florida, home of the biggest U.S. producer of wind power, voted in support of rules that would increase the use of renewable energy at the pace urged by Governor Charlie Crist.
The Florida Public Service Commission backed a proposal to send to lawmakers that would require investor-owned utilities to derive at least 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by the end of 2020.
The commission modified a staff recommendation that would have delayed the 20 percent requirement until 2041. Florida got 3.6 percent of its electricity from alternative energy as of 2007, according to the commission. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed in November to boost his state’s renewable standard to 33 percent by 2020.
Juno Beach, Florida-based FPL Group Inc., the state’s largest electric utility owner, is the biggest U.S. producer of wind and solar power. FPL’s Florida utility gets its power from traditional sources such as oil- and coal-fueled generation. The company’s wholesale power business generates wind and solar power in states such as California, where utilities have gotten rates approved that reflect more use of alternative energy.
The Florida commission will send a renewable draft to the legislature by Feb. 1, according to an e-mailed statement today. The rules need legislative ratification, the commission said. Regulators also will ask lawmakers to consider broadening the definition of clean energy to include nuclear, said Cynthia Muir, a commission spokeswoman.
Florida Power & Light, the FPL utility, supports including “all clean energy sources,” including nuclear, in the Florida plan, company spokesman Randy Clerihue said.
“With a clean-energy standard that includes new nuclear generation as well as renewables such as wind and solar, we can reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, control costs, dampen fuel price volatility for customers and meet aggressive targets that should be adopted by the state,” Clerihue said.
Robert F. Stonerock Jr., president of the Florida Renewable Energy Association, said in an interview this week that broadening the standard to include nuclear may prevent the development of renewable power in Florida.
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