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Florida Energy Bill to Boost Renewable Energy

A wide-ranging energy bill that intends to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy within the state of Florida was recently approved by Florida Governor Charlie Crist.

House Bill 7135 requires the Florida Public Service Commission to establish a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that will specify a minimum percentage of retail electricity sales that must be supplied by renewable energy. A draft rule must be prepared by February 2009. The bill also requires the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to create a cap-and-trade regulatory program to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from major emitters.

Because major emitters include commercial buildings, the bill expands the state's Innovation Incentive Program to include renewable energy projects, creates a grant program to help local governments achieve green standards, and expands the state's Renewable Energy Technology Grants Program to include energy-efficiency technologies for commercial buildings and vehicles.

Regarding buildings, the bill requires the Florida Building Commission to prepare a 2010 edition of the Florida Energy Efficiency Code for Building Construction that increases the energy performance of new buildings by at least 20 percent relative to the 2007 code, increasing to a 50-percent performance improvement by the 2019 edition. The bill also requires new buildings constructed and financed by the state to be designed and built to meet nationally recognized green-building standards. The same standards apply to renovations of existing state buildings.

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