By Dawn Shirreffs, Environmental Defense Fund
Florida temperatures are soaring, breaking records across the state. Heat indexes have reached a scorching 110 degrees in some areas, making it hard to escape the sweltering heat. As Florida grapples with intense temperatures and increasing energy demands, we must prioritize the pursuit of an affordable and reliable energy security plan for Florida.
Florida’s residents and businesses have already felt the pinch of over 20% increases in power rates triggered by volatile natural gas prices, and many are struggling to pay their energy bills. As temperatures continue to rise, the demands on our energy grid will only intensify.
About 75% of our energy comes from natural gas. We cannot afford to rely so heavily on a single fuel source. Recent failures of gas-fired power during extreme weather across the U.S. highlight the potential risks associated with over-reliance on any single source of energy.
We need look no further than Texas to see the effectiveness of renewable energy during record energy demands and extreme weather events. Like Florida, the Lone Star State is grappling with a heat wave, and it is solar, wind and battery storage that are keeping the lights on and energy bills affordable. It’s time Florida recognizes that renewables work — and are the most economical choice.
Fossil fuel interests have long attempted to undermine the viability of renewable energy sources, painting them as unreliable. However, the data speaks for itself: Renewables, including solar, wind and batteries, have proven to be the most economical and most sustainable energy options available today.
It is imperative that Florida diversify our energy mix to safeguard our economy and ensure affordable and reliable energy for all. By embracing a broader range of clean energy sources, we can strengthen our resilience to unforeseen circumstances and mitigate potential crises.
Investments in renewable energy infrastructure and technologies will create jobs, attract businesses and drive innovation opportunities. The cost of renewable energy has plummeted in recent years, making it the most affordable energy source.
To navigate these challenges and secure a sustainable future, we urgently need our leaders to establish a task force dedicated to developing an energy security plan for Florida. This task force should bring together experts from various fields, including utilities, NGOs, businesses, experts and community members to craft a roadmap that will guide Florida toward a more diverse, cost-effective and efficient supply of energy that does not rely on importing nearly all of our fuel from out of state.
Florida has the chance to become a leader in clean energy, but the time to act is now, and by establishing this task force immediately, and developing a state energy security plan, our legislators can demonstrate their commitment to protecting our future and keeping the Sunshine State affordable.
Dawn Shirreffs, of St. Petersburg, is Florida director of the Environmental Defense Fund. This opinion piece was originally published by the Sun Sentinel, which is a media partner of The Invading Sea.