Ready for 100% Renewable Energy:
Solar and Energy Efficiency is Superior
Gloria Pickar, Co-President, is urging Orlando's Mayor Dyer and OUC management to take a serious look at a recently released report that includes comparisons of three pathways for achieving 100% renewable energy by 2050. Report authors concluded that solar and energy efficiency provide superior economic and health results over options that rely on coal and natural gas.
See Gloria's My Word column that appeared in the Orlando Sentinel
on Aug 8, 2020 below or find at Orlando Sentinel HERE
Three years ago, before a packed and cheering crowd at City Hall, Mayor Buddy Dyer and the Orlando City Council unanimously passed a commitment to power all of Orlando’s electricity with renewable energy by 2050. Every person who spoke to the issue that day, including the mayor and all six city commissioners as well as dozens of citizens who lined up for a moment at the microphone, spoke in favor of the city’s pledge.
The League of Women Voters of Orange County, a founding member of the First 50 Coalition for a sustainable Central Florida, was in the room on that historic day. Our members were among the exuberant crowd that spilled out of City Council chambers and into the hallway to celebrate, powering the start of a local environmental justice movement that the League is proud to be part of today.
Over the past three years, the First 50 Coalition has grown into a broad alliance of more than a dozen civic, environmental, and social justice groups. These groups are working together to improve public health and protect our local environment by transitioning our municipal utility away from the coal and gas that currently powers more than 90% of Orlando’s electricity.
Now, Orlando has reached another historic turning point, thanks to an in-depth energy study released last week. The study, commissioned by the First 50 Coalition and conducted by Synapse Energy Economics, found that a transition to solar panels and battery storage will not only protect health, help save the planet, and grow local jobs. It also will save Orlando Utilities Commission ratepayers an estimated $176 million over 20 years, compared with continuing business as usual.
This is a rare win-win. Transitioning to renewable energy will not only clean our air and combat climate change. It is also a financial plus. And that’s not counting the external factors that are rarely considered when calculating the cost of fossil fuel, including emergency room visits for local residents who suffer asthma and heart attacks caused by polluted air (which also makes people more susceptible to COVID-19), or the billion-dollar disaster recovery efforts to clean up after extreme weather events fueled by global warming.
On Aug. 8, 2017, Mayor Dyer and the City Council made a promise to the citizens of Orlando. The next day, OUC spokesman Tim Trudell told the Orlando Sentinel that the utility welcomed the challenge set by the 100% renewable goal. "We're excited about the opportunity to do more innovation," he said at the time.
The League of Women Voters of Orange County is excited, too. Innovation is possible and practical. We call on Mayor Dyer, the City Council, and OUC to keep that promise and power a brighter future for our community with 100% renewable energy.
Gloria Pickar is co-president of the League of Women Voters of Orange County.