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Florida Cities, Counties In Forefront Of Clean Energy Movement

Environment Florida Research & Policy Center; the CLEO Institute; Sierra Club Florida, and Florida Conservation Voters.
Map of Florida cities and counties involved in climate change action

Many cities and counties are stepping into the void because of a lack of action on climate change by the state and federal government.

During a conference call Thursday hosted by Environment Florida Research & Policy Center, the CLEO Institute, Sierra Club Florida, and Florida Conservation Voters; St. Petersburg City Council member Darden Rice said the county's bus system will soon order four more electric buses. Their ultimate goal is to electrify the entire fleet.

"It's our duty as local government officials to plan for the future sustainability of our communities, and that is what led us to make the decision to purchase zero-emission electric buses at the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority," she said.

Thursday night, city council members in Dunedin are poised to vote on a resolution committing the city to 100 percent renewable energy.

Orlando is in the forefront of the movement.

Chris Castro, Sustainability Director for the city of Orlando, says the city is investing in new solar farms.

"So I've brokered a deal to procure 5.2 megawatts of solar electricity to offset 100 percent of City Hall, all 17 fire stations and the Orlando Police headquarters, completely powered by the sun, completely offsetting our consumption in the grid," he said.

Castro said the entire fleet of buses that serves downtown will be switched to electric by 2025. Orlando joins Pinellas and Miami Dade, which are also looking to have fully electric bus systems.

"The strategic goals of the city are we're trying to reduce 90 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2040," he said, "ensuring that we're building all new LEED-certified municipal buildings, and moving 100 percent of our municipal operations to renewables, and citywide, the entire electric grid by 2050 to renewables."

Orlando is one of five cities in Florida - including St. Petersburg - and 101 cities around the country which have committed to 100 percent renewable energy.



Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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