Local governments in Florida can no longer prevent companies like Florida Power & Light or Duke Energy from using whatever fuel sources they prefer to supply electricity to their customers.
New legislation, signed into law this week by Governor Ron DeSantis, prohibits local governments from enacting or enforcing any policy that restricts or prohibits the types of fuel sources utility companies can use. However, the companies will still be subject to regulation by the Florida Public Service Commission.
Supporters of the legislation argue it ensures Florida consumers have energy options and energy independence overall. In particular, it is seen as protecting the use of natural gas, a fuel supply described by those in the industry as a cleaner-burning, efficient fuel.
“Because North America is rich in natural gas resources, using this abundant domestic resource creates economic benefits and improves energy security,” according to the Shell Company.
House sponsor Representative Josie Tomkow (R-District 39) said during a committee hearing she brought the bill forward because she did not want Florida to restrict energy sources and possibly experience the problems seen this winter in Texas, where the statewide energy system experienced catastrophic failure during a historic winter storm.
However, opponents say the legislation is an overreach of state government and restricts local government’s rights to advance the use of “clean energy” and work to prevent climate chang.
U.S. Representative Kathy Castor of Tampa released a statement yesterday saying, “In a victory for the fossil fuel corporations over the citizens of Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis signed an extreme, anti-consumer, anti-clean energy bill into law late yesterday that preempts local communities from expanding clean energy and cost-saving energy efficiency. DeSantis and the GOP-controlled legislature continue to do the bidding of the fossil fuel and electric utility industries – even as the costs to Floridians and harms from the climate crisis escalate. The governor was hoping that Floridians would not notice as it was included in a large group of bills signed without mention late yesterday. The only appropriate course now for the governor would be for him to change Florida’s moniker from the ‘Sunshine State’ to the ‘Dirty Gas No Matter What State.’”