| TALLAHASSEE, July 21
TALLAHASSEE, July 21 Attorneys for major power
companies told state regulators Monday that mandates for energy
efficiency rebates make them reward well-off Floridians at the
expense of all residents and businesses.
But a state legislator and officials of some conservation
organizations argued that electric utilities just want to
eliminate cheap, renewable energy and create an ever-increasing
demand for more power plants.
The Florida Public Service Commission, which regulates
utilities, scheduled three days of hearings this week in a
five-year review of its requirements that power companies help
consumers with better windows, insulation, air conditioning and
other efficiency measures. The companies add a few dollars per
thousand kilowatt hours to fund the incentives.
Florida Power & Light company attorney John Butler asked the
five-member commission to let the requirement of solar subsidies
expire this year. He said the kickbacks have not brought down
the cost of panels but have made everyone pay for the benefit of
those who can afford them.
"In short, the solar pilots have demonstrated only that
offering a limited pool of rebates will create a stampede of the
fortunate few, working to make the rest of our customers
subsidize their rooftop systems," he said.
But attorney Diana Csank of the Sierra Club said
conservation can delay the need for plant construction. She said
that's what the power companies really dislike as it cuts into
"This is a case about money and risk," she said. "Resource
decisions and goals set this year will decide how much energy
efficiency the lowest-cost, lowest-risk resource we will have to
protect Florida's consumers from the rising costs and risks of
power plants," she added.
Alton Drew, an attorney for the state chapter of the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
(NAACP), urged the PSC to consider economic fairness.
"Implementation of conservation goals and programs should
not require those who can least afford to invest in a highly
efficient air-conditioner or solar rooftop panels to support
those who do have the financial means to do so, and wish to do
so," Drew said.
David Guest of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said
the poor have a stake in holding down future demand for power
"The minority communities are disproportionately victimized
by the pollution from power plants and they are
disproportionately victimized by climate change," he said.
(Editing by David Adams and Eric Walsh)