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Environment

Proposal Would Explore Future Energy Needs

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Wikimedia Commons

A proposed task force would look at solar, renewable and sustainable energy, smart grid technology, energy storage, electric vehicles, and storm hardening for the electric system.

St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes wants utility regulators to outline the state’s energy needs for the next 20 years.

Brandes on Friday filed a proposal (SB 136) that would establish the Energy 2040 Task Force within the Public Service Commission to recommend electric policies and statutory changes.

“Gov. (Jeb) Bush did this exact same thing. He came up with a 2020 energy plan for Florida,” Brandes said. “We’re in 2020. We should be looking farther out. We expect the population to grow from 21 million people to 25 million people by 2030, 2035, somewhere in that timeframe.”

Brandes, who wants lawmakers to take up the proposal during the 2021 legislative session, pointed out that “emerging technologies” are advancing. “We see the rapid growth of electric vehicles over the next two decades, to where 40 percent of all cars sold by 2040 can be electric, or greater. So, we think it's time for the state to take the long-term view again and at least have a plan,” he said.

Under Brandes’ proposal, the task force would look into solar and other renewable energy, sustainable energy, smart grid technology, energy storage, electric vehicles, and storm hardening for the electric system, along with impacts on the environment, the electric supply, and state and local government revenue.

The task force would be chaired by the state public counsel, who represents consumers on utility issues. The panel would also include the executive director of the Public Service Commission, the chair of the Florida Energy Systems Consortium, the chief executive officer of the Florida Reliability Coordinating Council, two members of the state House, and two members of the state Senate.

“Whether it ultimately all comes together or not, who knows? But at least we've thought about it. We've got a thoughtful process in understanding what are the demands going to be on the system over the next two decades and how should we be thinking about that today,” Brandes said. “The last thing I want to be is in 2035 and rushing to get more energy or a more diverse group of energy online to meet the growing demand.”

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