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The Renewable Energy Debate is Heating up in Tallahassee

Two interesting bills are being debated in the Florida Legislature: SB 1128 and HB 919.


The basic argument is whether state law makers or local municipalities should guide local energy initiatives.


As of today, 11 Florida municipalities have passed ordinances committing to 100% renewable energy at some point in the next 10-30 years.


These local laws would prevent certain types of energy sources within these jurisdictions and only allow renewable sources of energy to be generated.


Proponents of the state legislation say these local ordinances prevent individuals from selecting their own choice of energy and therefore the state needs to step in and preempt these directives.


Advocates of the local renewable energy mandates oppose SB 1128 and HB919 on the grounds that such laws would undermine the ability of local governments to make decisions and give that power to the state.



I’m torn


As an advocate of renewable energy, I believe we all should be taking measures to reduce our carbon footprints and dependence on fossil fuels as quickly as possible.


I prefer the use of wind and solar to create energy, and I think there is a role for the government to play in order to make that happen, especially small local governments.


My belief is that the government closest to the people governs best.

On the other hand...


When local ordinances limit the type of energy that individuals can use, they deny people the right to personal choice and personal freedom.


Sure, I would prefer people use renewable energy sources, because I believe it’s better for the planet, but I also believe in freedom of choice.


The good news is, I believe there is a solution.





Here's a Thought


Place the onus of using clean energy more directly on the individual thus avoiding legislative battles and delayed action. Many citizens can create their own “green” energy by putting solar panels on their roof. They don’t have to wait around for renewable energy ordinances or put faith in public officials.


In fact, I would argue that society would be better off if individuals took the initiative to promote the common good instead of abdicating that responsibility to their local or state government.

Now I recognize that some individuals face barriers, which is where government action comes into play.


Governments, working with utilities, can establish community solar options where renters or folks with limited roof space can buy clean energy. And governments can also establish financial incentives, instead of controversial mandates, that would encourage individuals and businesses to favor renewables.

My Response to SB 1128 and HB 919

Don’t wait for the state or local government to decide what type of energy you will be able to use. Take personal responsibility for your electricity and produce your own.


If you’re a homeowner. Put solar panels on your roof. If you don’t own a home, then lobby your local officials to work with your utility to build community solar arrays where you can buy clean energy.


Joe Collins is a Solar Advocate and the Owner of CIE Solar Energy, LLC. www.ciesolar.com.



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