Florida needs stronger energy efficiency programs for our health, for our future

Published in Tampa Bay Times | Op-ed by FCCA Member Dr. Barbara Nabrit-Stephens | Feb 13, 2021

Most states have energy efficiency programs to help homeowners save money on their electric bills. Through these programs, power companies are required to spend a fraction of their sales to help people use less electricity at home. Rebates and incentives help homeowners change lightbulbs, install insulation and other retrofits that lower bills, reduce demand, and prevent the need to build polluting power plants.

Unfortunately, Florida ranks at the botttom of the list for efficiency programs. The national average for energy efficiency programs, as a percentage of sales, is about 1 percent. Florida captures a tiny fraction of that – 0.17 percent. This is because the agency that sets goals, the Florida Public Service Commission, uses a 30-year old practice known as the RIM test. The RIM test overestimates costs and undervalues benefits from energy efficiency. Florida is the only state that still uses this outdated test. This is one of the reasons Floridians pay the 11th highest electricity bills in the country.