Florida is hot right now, and we don’t mean the temperature. It ranks second in the country for retail electricity sales per household; it is the third most populous state and has the fourth largest economy; and has the fifth largest projected population growth rate between 2010 and 2014. That adds up to a huge opportunity for advanced energy in the Sunshine State – where it is already a $6.2 billion industry, bigger than the $4.2 billion generated by agricultural exports in 2014. That was the message that AEE took to Florida earlier this month, armed with a report prepared by Navigant Research showing just how big an economic force advanced energy is in the state.
In early June, member companies from AEE’s newly formed Florida Steering Committee met in Tallahassee with legislators, regulators, and agency officials to open a dialogue about how to grow the advanced energy industry, and their businesses specifically, in Florida. Companies in attendance included CLEAResult, EnerNOC, First Solar, Harvest Power, Johnson Controls, Landis+Gyr, Lime Energy, and Philips Lighting. The goal for the meetings was not to focus on any specific policy opportunities or barriers, but rather to set the stage for long-term engagement as a multi-technology group looking to do business in the state today, and in the years to come.
What helped to get the attention of the more than 20 policymakers we met with was AEE’s newly released market report, Advanced Energy in Florida, which tells the story of an industry well established but with plenty of room to grow.
In a state with air conditioning needs nearly year-round, it’s no surprise that Building Efficiency is the largest advanced energy market segment, with $2.9 billion in revenue in 2014. Technologies in that category include energy efficient lighting, geothermal heat pumps, and commercial energy-efficient retrofits.
The state also has a steadily expanding Advanced Transportation market, currently $1.2 billion, due to increasing interest in hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles. Florida has over 1,000 electric vehicle charging stations already, and that number is expected to grow. Drive Electric Florida is one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Initiative award recipients, with a growing plug-in hybrid electric vehicle network in Southeast Florida.
Home to some of the first commercial cellulosic biofuel plants in the world, Florida has been a leader in advanced energy installations, but there is potential for more. The state has the sixth highest biogas generation potential, and development of landfill gas processing facilities is under way to take advantage of this resource.
In addition, the Sunshine State is ranked third in the nation for rooftop solar potential but is 13th in installed capacity. Florida also has the fourth highest potential for commercial Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems in the nation but only the eighth most installed capacity.
Companies profiled in the “Advanced Energy in Florida” report include EnerNOC, which partners with Tampa Electric Co. to deliver demand response capacity; Harvest Power, which operates a first-of-its-kind facility in Orlando to convert organic waste into renewable electricity and natural fertilizers; Johns Manville, with operations in Jacksonville providing integrated roofing systems and other energy-saving insulation products; Landis+Gyr, which has worked with Jacksonville municipal utility JEA and Florida Power & Light installing smart meters and smart grid equipment; Philips Lighting, which provides lighting solutions to Central Florida out of its Winter Park location, while Philips Healthcare maintains four other locations, for total Florida employment of 500 and $89 million in payroll; and SolarCity, which is working with homebuilders to put rooftop solar on new homes.
Was Tallahassee worth the trip for AEE’s member companies? We hope the note we received from Colin Meehan of First Solar is representative.
“As a solar company looking at tremendous opportunity in the state, the meetings you set up were an excellent introduction to the policies and politics of advanced energy in Florida, including meetings with a number of key decision makers,” wrote Meehan in an email. “Having spent time in a variety of states working on solar and advanced energy issues I have to say that this trip really stood out for being extremely well organized as well as high-impact. Frankly, I was blown away with the number of high level state officials you were able to have us meet with. I’m looking forward to working with your team in Florida, and after our first meeting I know we’ll have great opportunities to work with state leadership to grow the market!”