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Senators Michael S. Bennett, R-Fla., Evelyn Lynn, R-Fla., Mike R. Fasano, R-Fla., and Jeffrey R. Atwater, R-Fla., have recently introduced Senate Bill (S.B.) 996 to the Communications and Public Utilities Committee. Voted in favor by the committee 8-1, the bill creates a renewable energy standard requiring that 50% of all electricity provided by a utility be from renewable energy sources by 2015 from within Florida.

According to the Florida legislature, the bill also creates the Florida Alternative Energy Development Corp., which would promote the development of alternative energy technologies in the state. The company would assist in state-government energy programs, create a Web site for Florida residents to obtain information, and hold conferences to educate the public, among other initiatives.

In addition, S.B.996 would create the Florida Net Metering Conservation Act, requiring all utilities set up a net-metering program.

"If the customer's system generates more energy than the customer consumes during a billing cycle, the utility must pay the customer for the excess generation at its avoided cost, as set forth in S.366.051," the bill states.

On the other hand, the House of Representatives recently drafted House Bill 7123 (H.B.) 7123 - part of the bill requires the Florida Energy Commission conduct a study with the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to recommend an "appropriate renewable portfolio standard."

The organizations would study the current and future availability of renewable fuels, incentives to attract the development of large-scale renewable energy projects, impact on utility rates and costs if an RPS were issued, and the environmental and economic benefits of forming an RPS, the bill states.

Kevin Wiehle, PSC's legislative analyst, estimates the study would take between six months to a year to conduct. He adds that four years ago, the PSC and the Department of Environmental Protection studied the options of obtaining additional renewable energy resources. Wiehle predicts that the study is still accurate because Florida's renewable energy portfolio has not altered substantially.

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