Recently, Citizens for Clean Energy hosted a Florida Clean Energy Summit in Orlando, moderated by incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos and featuring panels filled with accomplished experts in business, academia, environmental advocacy and economic development. The forum was open and dynamic, with a broad representation of folks across the state who would benefit from policies that would advance renewable energy alternatives – from small-panel solar installers like ESG Companies to research and development giants like NASA.
Most left the summit refreshed to see such a variety of perspectives brought together. Despite the fact that many had differing ideas of how to proceed, everyone could agree that Florida needs to move quickly to pursue policies that will bring renewable energy and the associated jobs and investment to our state. Moving ahead, all of us -- from developers and research institutions to electricians, builders and ordinary citizens -- need to pull together toward a greater clean-energy future for Florida.
From the moment we began planning the city of Babcock Ranch, Kitson & Partners has focused on building a city that embodied the ideal of a clean-energy future: a city that minimally impacted the environment, that incubated numerous clean-energy technologies, and that was truly sustainable -- meaning it included jobs and industry alongside homes and schools.
Most importantly, we at Kitson & Partners knew there would not be a one-size-fits-all solution to reducing our dependency on fossil fuels. That’s why beyond the 75 MW solar-facility Florida Power & Light has committed to building, distributed generation has been an integral part of our plans. Distributed generation refers to a network of smaller energy systems that are installed in individual buildings and homes, such as rooftop solar panels and solar water-heaters. That’s also why we are committed to a new kind of transportation infrastructure that provides small, solar-charging stations for electric vehicles and clean, efficient forms of public transportation, as well.
Using a variety of solutions also means we need to dedicate ourselves to using less energy in the first place. The homes and businesses of Babcock Ranch will be built using Florida Green Building Council standards, making them more efficient to cool and heat. Additionally, with the help of IBM’s FocalPoint software, and utilizing the most advanced smart-grid technology available, the residents of the city of Babcock Ranch will be able to control their energy usage with incredible accuracy, allowing them to conserve resources and save money on their energy bills.
Although large-scale utility projects will take us far in the effort to wean ourselves off of oil and fossil fuels, Florida cannot rely on those alone. It will take smart planning, efficient homes, clean transportation, distributed generation and environmental stewardship. This also means we’ll need electricians, contractors, mechanics, builders, roofers, engineers and more. Florida can be the place to research, develop and build all these new technologies, but we need to work together to make this a reality.
Syd Kitson is chairman and CEO of Kitson & Partners. Based in West Palm Beach, the company is working to make the new city of Babcock Ranch in Southwest Florida a model for sustainable growth.