Energy coalition rallies against public utilities

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Their message was loud and clear Monday in Tallahassee.

Neil Cosentino, of Tampa, joined others in the fight against how much energy should be used by utility companies.

"Reducing power means reducing costs," Cosentino said. "Their agenda is to produce power so they can make profit."

The environmental groups, known as the Sunshine State Clean Energy Coalition, are hoping big public utilities save more energy and don't build new power plants in Florida.

"They could invest in energy savings, but that would mean savings for their consumers not for their profits," said Kelly Martin with the Sierra Club.

The decision lies in the hands of the Public Service Commission, which regulates power companies. The commission requires the utilities to produce energy conserving programs like rebates or home energy audits.

The board has a series of meetings this to gather information as they reconsider what to do with the programs.

"We're going to propose a goal that will reduce our conservation goal from over 300 gigawatts down to 21 gigawatts. Again, partly because we've seen customers are already saving energy," Ivey said.The utilities are asking the PSC to cut those down because many consumers are already conserving, said Sterling Ivey with Duke Energy.

The group is arguing the PSC should keep the programs in place and push for solar panels instead of power plants.

"Energy efficiency is the cheapest, fastest and safest way to meet Florida's electricity needs."

The PSC will listen to feedback the next couple of days then make a decision later this year.


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