|FSEC Director, James Fenton
Florida has positioned itself for leadership by taking steps to improve
the state’s energy policies as well as energy use and efficiency
with Governor Crist’s recent Climate Change Summit and Executive
Orders. I was pleased to participate in panels at the Summit, discussing
solar energy and energy efficiency. Also attending the Summit
were Philip Fairey, FSEC Deputy Director and Bob Reedy, Director of
the Solar Energy Division. The excitement and enthusiasm for what
the Governor was doing ran throughout the meeting.
A few weeks before the Governor’s Climate Change Summit, Florida
Today proposed that energy policy actions must come from the federal
government (in its editorial entitled “Break America’s
Chains”). Although their assessment of federal government
actions is exactly correct, I replied in a guest editorial that I
feel state government can take significant steps in its energy policy
to accomplish similar results. Following are some thoughts from the
Florida does not have to wait for Washington to take action! While
it is true that the federal government holds the keys to federal CAFE
standards (see Editor’s note below), that does not mean we cannot
act – both individually and as a state. Here are some
state actions that can be accomplished now to directly affect our
transportation energy use:
- Require state and local government vehicle fleets to use hybrid
vehicles or high-efficiency vehicles.
- Create a new vehicle sales tax to favor vehicles that get high
miles per gallon, such as more than 40 mpg. This could change the
decision-making process for many new car buyers.
- Reward communities that have carefully planned public-transit
designs with grants to support public transit, be it buses or commuter
- Provide a state-level, tax-neutral daily charge on rental cars
in Florida that gives preference to higher-efficiency rental cars.
- Increase the percentage of Highway Trust fund dollars for public
transit from today’s rate of 17 percent to a maximum of 22
percent in 10 years.
While the “Sunshine State” may be trying to catch up
to 23 other states in building energy efficient homes and implementing
solar energy, Florida could be bold and take leadership in transportation
energy policy. Why should we wait for Congress and President Bush
to enact energy policy for transportation?
Let's stop looking around for people to blame and start doing
things to make our homes and our vehicles more energy-efficient. We
don't need to wait for the federal government to do this for us. We
hold the keys and can do it for ourselves if we really want.
the Florida Solar Energy Center’s Web site, www.floridaenergycenter.com,
to read about our ongoing research in these areas: Advanced
Energy Research, encompassing hydrogen, fuel cell and alternative fuels research
and development; Buildings Research, including energy efficiency strategies
for homes and commercial buildings and virtually every aspect of building
science; Solar Energy Research, composed of photovoltaics for energy
generation and solar thermal for heating applications. The Energy
Education office provides K-12 programs for students and teachers
and administers the SunSmart Schools program. The Solar Research
Library houses an extensive collection of renewable energy information.
Their materials are available to the public for reference use on-site
or through interlibrary loan.
Visit the consumer section of our Web site for ways to start saving
I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a
source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait till oil
and coal run out before we tackle that.
~~Thomas Edison, 1931
Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) is the average fuel
economy, in miles per gallon, of a manufacturer’s fleet of
passenger cars or light trucks with a gross vehicle weight
rating of 8,500 lbs. or less, manufactured for sale in the United
States, for any given model year. The National Highway Transportation
Safety Administration (NHTSA) is responsible for establishing the
Congress specified that CAFE standards must be set at the “maximum
feasible level,” considering these four factors:
(1) Technological feasibility;
(2) Economic practicability;
(3) Effect of other standards on fuel economy; and
(4) Need of the nation to conserve energy