2013 Florida Energy Summit Kicks-Off

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Press Release: Commissioner Putnam's Office

Orlando, FL – Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam outlined legislative proposals to cut taxes on businesses and consumers today during opening remarks at the Florida Energy Summit. The two-day summit, which opened today, convenes leaders in the energy industry, academic world and all levels of government to discuss the future of energy in Florida.

Following are excerpts from Commissioner Putnam’s remarks:

“We are in the early stages of an energy revolution, with profound potential for our state and nation.

“We must capitalize on the opportunities available, but we must take a thoughtful strategic approach. I support a free market, all-of-the-above approach to energy policy. We should help investors, businesses and consumers capitalize on the opportunities available, without having government pick winners and losers, and we must let the market determine what works and what does not.

“My legislative proposals for next session are designed to help Florida capitalize on energy opportunities. These proposals will reduce energy costs for businesses, reduce energy costs for consumers, identify energy infrastructure needs and support energy innovation.

“I’m proposing that we cut the sales tax Florida businesses pay for electricity in half over the next three years. Ultimately, this tax cut will save Florida businesses approximately $250 million every year. That is money they can use to grow their business. That is money they can use to create jobs.

“We all know our future is rooted in education. Strong education breeds innovators, researchers and math and science teachers. I want to support Florida’s education system by directing the revenue from the remaining 3.5 percent tax to the Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) program.

“My second proposal is to create a property tax exemption for commercial properties that install renewable energy systems or make structural improvements to protect from wind. Residential properties are already exempt – this will equalize treatment for businesses.

“I propose a tax holiday weekend on Energy Star appliances. The tax holiday weekend on Energy Star appliances will not only save consumers money on purchases and utility bills – it will help us conserve our precious energy and water resources.

“Florida relies on natural gas for about 60 percent of its power generation. That makes Florida the second most dependent state on natural gas for power generation. That’s why I feel we need an analysis and a multi-decade forecast of Florida’s natural gas usage. The analysis will evaluate the risks associated with the state’s growing reliance on one fuel source. The study will assess long-range infrastructure needs, above ground storage and liquefaction, opportunities for natural gas in transportation and pricing predictions. I believe the forecast will help Florida businesses and policymakers to make more informed decisions moving forward.

“In addition to the legislative proposals I’ve outlined, we’re going to support energy innovation with the launch of the first Clean Energy R&D Match Fund. Many grants offered by the federal government or private organizations call for matching funds as a requirement to qualify for the grant. Many states offer matching funds for this purpose, but Florida historically has not. We’re going to invest up to $4 million in matching funds to support Florida’s innovators and entrepreneurs in energy research and development.

“We’re not asking for new money from the Legislature for this purpose. Better yet, we’re redirecting funds from the 2006 Renewable Energy and Energy-Efficient Technologies (REET) Grant Program. These remaining funds were never expended because some original grant projects were never completed, or the funds were returned because the grant projects did not meet their goals. So we’re going to make sure that these taxpayer dollars go to good use – we’re going to invest this money back into Florida’s energy future. The Clean Energy R&D Match Fund will level the playing field for Florida innovators and entrepreneurs to compete for federal and private grants.

For a complete list of speakers at the Florida Energy Summit, visit www.floridaenergysummit.com/agenda.html.

For up-to-the-minute updates on activity at the Florida Energy Summit, visit the event’s official blog, www.floridaenergysummit.com/blog.html.

For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.

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