Florida drives ahead with electric vehicles; lags behind in energy efficiency, renewables

Media Contacts
Jennifer Rubiello

Florida is headed in the right direction when it comes to electric cars. Since 2008, Florida ranks 4th out of all 50 states in the number of electric vehicles sold and has installed the 2nd-most publicly available charging stations in the nation, according to a new report released today by Environment Florida Research & Policy Center.

Renewables on the Rise: A Decade of Progress Toward a Clean Energy Future, provides a state-by-state report card of the growth of key technologies needed to power the nation with clean, renewable energy, including wind, solar, energy efficiency, energy storage and electric vehicles.

“We’re seeing some progress on electric cars,” said Jennifer Rubiello, state director of Environment Florida. “But as long as clean energy takes a back seat, we’re foregoing opportunities to protect our health and environment. Entering another hurricane season, when people with solar and battery storage still have power when the grid goes down, we can’t afford not to lead on renewables.”

According to the report, Florida ranks 13th in solar electricity generation nationally, yet only .5% of the state’s power comes from clean, renewable sources. That’s because Florida had no growth in either solar battery storage capacity or wind energy this past year, even though nationally, utility-scale battery energy storage capacity grew 17-fold from 2008 to 2017.

“East of the Mississippi, Florida gets the most solar radiant energy” said Scott McIntyre, CEO of Solar Energy Management. “It’s time to bring Florida out of the solar dark ages.”

The report also shows that the state lags behind on energy efficiency, ranking 42nd among the states for improvements in electricity efficiency savings.

“Capturing all cost effective energy efficiency is the fastest, cheapest and cleanest way to meet our energy need,” said Susan Glickman of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Unfortunately, as detailed in the report, Florida utilities have gutted conservation goals with the approval of regulators. The result is that the state is missing out on consumer savings, job creation and pollution reductions.”

But the future is bright. Dozens of American cities, led by a mix of Republican and Democratic mayors, including St. Petersburg, Sarasota and Orlando here in Florida, have committed to completely powering their operations with renewable energy in the near future.

“The reality is inescapable: fossil fuels pollute our air, water and land, threatening our health and changing our climate even faster than scientists predicted,” said Rubiello. “We need to seize the moment, build on recent progress and lean into a future powered by clean, renewable energy.”