On June 22, 2021 Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced a new energy equity study will be completed by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Office of Energy. The study is the first of its kind in Florida, and will investigate the distribution of benefits and burdens from energy production and consumption and the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on marginalized Floridians. In addition, it will review systemic inequalities, barriers, and limited access to public and private resources and programs and how energy effiicency and renewable energy programs can be designed to address disparities.
“Nearly three million Floridians live in poverty, including 20 percent of Black and 16 percent of Hispanic families. While unemployment benefits and food banks have helped those in need throughout the pandemic, one issue not receiving enough help is high utility costs that disproportionately impact low-income consumers and communities of color,” said Commissioner Nikki Fried. “Research shows that these consumers face an energy burden three times higher than other consumers. The key to solving this is understanding it – that’s why we’re launching Florida’s first-ever statewide energy equity study. Everyone has power bills – but too many struggle to pay them, choosing between rent, food, medicine, and utilities. I’m hopeful this study will help us develop equitable energy solutions for vulnerable Floridians looking for relief from high energy costs.”
The study is supported with U.S. State Energy Program funds, and will build on a robust set of programs and resources from the FDACS Office of Energy. Since 2011, the Office of Energy has administered $158 million in state and federal funds for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, has provided hundreds of free energy and water audits, and recently released the state’s first electric vehicle roadmap. In 2020, the Office of Energy also launched a $1 million grant program to assist low-income communities with high energy costs, and a $2 million energy efficiency grant program for publicly-owned wastewater treatment facilities.
For additional information visit https://www.fdacs.gov/News-Events/Press-Releases/2021-Press-Releases/Commissioner-Nikki-Fried-Announces-Florida-s-First-Ever-Statewide-Energy-Equity-Study and for information equity for State Energy Offices visit https://naseo.org/issues/equity.