State agency proposes measures for reliable energy


Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 17, 2006 at 11:51 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE - Sharing of generators by gas stations, faster building of power plants and more use of mass transit are among several suggestions for how Florida can ensure a reliable and adequate supply of energy in the future, a state agency said Tuesday.
While the report's focus is on ensuring a continuous, reliable energy supply, the comprehensive study of what should be done was prompted by two summers of hurricanes, which pointed out several vulnerabilities in how Florida gets fuel for its electric generation and gas for its cars.
"The hurricanes really gave us a bit of a wake-up call when it came to our energy supply," said Colleen Castille, secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.
Gasoline was hard to come by for several days after recent hurricanes, in some cases because of port closures that prevented supplies from arriving. But in many cases there was gasoline - but no power to pump it. The DEP plan said gas stations should pool their resources and share generators based on need. That would be an alternative to more costly proposals under consideration.
in the Legislature requiring stations to have generators.
The panel suggested a goal of having 10 percent of Florida gas stations in such a network by June 1, and proposed trying to double that number by the beginning of the 2007 hurricane season.
One of the key proposals in the plan for solidifying the state's electric supply immediately drew criticism from environmental groups.
As a way to spur more electricity generation, the state should find ways to streamline and speed up the permitting of new power plants, the DEP plan said. The plan specifically cited a need to maintain environmental protections and public participation in power plant decisions, but environmentalists said that reducing the steps before a plant can be built would sidestep such protections.
Susan Glickman, the Florida representative on the National Resources Defense Council, applauded some of the alternative energy ideas in the plan but said the power plant issue made the proposal "one step forward and two steps back."
She also criticized it for not specifically setting targets for reducing pollution and factory and car emissions.
"A real energy plan would include goals and dates for reducing greenhouse gasses," Glickman said.
The plan does include several ideas for cutting use of traditional fuels such as oil and gas - including tax breaks for companies that make or use ethanol, biodiesel or other alternative fuels. The plan also calls for the state to set an example with its own cars and buildings.
The report also suggested that an overarching problem is that Floridians simply have to drive too much.
"It takes at least an hour no matter where you're going in Miami-Dade County," Castille said. "That is a really an inefficient use of fuel. We've really got to move forward with public transportation."
The plan recommended more discussion on developing commuter rail, along with better planning of growth to take into account mass transit needs.
The report said the state should also: - Require all new state government buildings to be more environmentally friendly in their design, meeting a national standard for efficiency.
- Provide grant funding for research on renewable energy.
- Provide consumer and commercial rebates to help defray the cost of putting solar technology on houses and businesses, and consumer rebates for buying energy efficient appliances.
- Encourage development of pipelines for the delivery of gasoline rather than relying on fuel brought by ship.
--- On the Net: Florida Energy Plan: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/energy/fla-energy/files/energy-plan-final .pdf

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